SECTION 32 Laws Relating to the Writing of Tefillin. (1–80)

סימן לב דִּין כְּתִיבַת הַתְּפִלִּין, וּבוֹ פ סְעִיפִים:

1 The1 mitzvah of tefillin [requires] that one write out the four passages in which this mitzvah is mentioned, i.e., Kadesh li chol bechor until lemoadah miyamim yamimah,2 Vehayah ki yeviacha until ki bechozek yad hotzianu HaShem miMitzrayim,3 Shema until uvishe’arecha,4 and Vehayah im shamoa until al haaretz.5

These passages must be written in the order in which they appear in the Torah;6 i.e., first the passage that begins Kadesh, then Vehayah ki yeviacha, then Shema, and then Vehayah im shamoa. If one changed the order, (tefillin which use these passages) are invalid.7 (The passages themselves, however, may be used, as follows: If a passage which appears earlier in the Torah was written after other passages, one may write the later passages afresh and combine them into a set.8 Similarly, the passages which appear later [in the Torah] but which were written first can be combined with an earlier passage taken from other tefillin whose later passages had become invalid.9 If [these passages that were written out of order] cannot be combined [with others], they must be set aside.10)

Some authorities maintain that it is also fitting [to write] the passages of the arm-tefillin before those of the head-tefillin, because they are mentioned first in the verse.11 Nevertheless, if one does not [write these passages] first, [the tefillin] are not invalidated. (Others maintain that, as an initial preference, it is proper [to write] the passages of the head-tefillin before those of the arm-tefillin, because the holiness of the head-tefillin is greater than that of the arm-tefillin.12 This is proper according to the teachings of the Kabbalah.)13

א מִצְוַת1 תְּפִלִּין – שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב אַרְבַּע פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁהֻזְכְּרוּ בָּהֶן מִצְוָתָן,א שֶׁהֵן: "קַדֶּשׁ לִי כָל בְּכוֹר"ב עַד "לְמוֹעֲדָהּ מִיָּמִים יָמִימָה",ג,2 "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ"ד עַד "כִּי בְּחֹזֶק יָד הוֹצִיאָנוּ ה' מִמִּצְרָיִם",ה,3 וּפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע"ו עַד "וּבִשְׁעָרֶיךָ",ז,4 וּפָרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ"ח עַד "עַל הָאָרֶץ".ט,5

וְצָרִיךְ לְכָתְבָן כַּסֵּדֶר שֶׁהֵן כְּתוּבוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה,י,6 לִכְתֹּב תְּחִלָּה פָּרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ", וְאַחַר־כָּךְ "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ", וְאַחַר־כָּךְ "שְׁמַע", וְאַחַר־כָּךְ "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ". וְאִם שִׁנָּה סִדְרָן – פְּסוּלִין7 (הַתְּפִלִּין הַנַּעֲשִׂים מִפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת אֵלּוּ. אֲבָל הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת עַצְמָן יֵשׁ לָהֶן תַּקָּנָה, שֶׁהַמֻּקְדֶּמֶת בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁכְּתָבָהּ בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה – הֲרֵי יָכוֹל לִכְתֹּב עוֹד פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת הַמְאֻחָרוֹת לָהּ וּלְצָרְפָן אֵלֶיהָ,יא,8 וְכֵן הַמְאֻחָרוֹת שֶׁכְּתָבָן בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה – יָכוֹל לְצָרְפָן לְפָרָשָׁה מֻקְדֶּמֶת, מִתְּפִלִּין אֲחֵרוֹת שֶׁנִּפְסְלוּ בָּהֶן פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת הַמְאֻחָרוֹת.9 וְאִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְצָרְפָן – צְרִיכִים גְּנִיזָה).יב,10

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםיג שֶׁרָאוּי לְהַקְדִּים גַּם כֵּן פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל יָד לְשֶׁל רֹאשׁ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמֻּקְדֶּמֶת בַּפָּסוּק.יד,11 אַךְ אִם לֹא הִקְדִּים – לֹא פָּסוּל.

(וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםטו שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה רָאוּי לְהַקְדִּים פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל רֹאשׁ לְשֶׁל יָד, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁקְּדֻשַּׁת שֶׁל רֹאשׁ חֲמוּרָה מִשֶּׁל יָד.טז,12 וְכֵן נָכוֹן עַל פִּי הַקַּבָּלָה):יז,13

Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (Kehot Publication Society)

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2 According to the teachings of the Kabbalah, the dalet of the word echad should be written four times larger than a small dalet.14

ב עַל פִּי הַקַּבָּלָהיח צָרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב ד' שֶׁל "אֶחָד" גְּדוֹלָה כָּל־כָּךְ כְּמוֹ אַרְבָּעָה דַּלְתִּי"ן קְטַנִּים:14

3 The initial and preferred option is that one write the four passages of the arm-tefillin on one sheet of parchment.15 This is indicated by the phrase,16 “And it shall be for you as a sign,” [whose singular form] implies [that there should be] one sign, i.e., one compartment, visible as a sign from the outside.17 And just as [the tefillin] are a single sign on the outside, so too, should there be a single sign on the inside; i.e., all the passages should [be written] as a single epistle on one sheet of parchment.18

With regard to the head-tefillin, [by contrast, since] they have four compartments, the initial and preferred option is that the passages be written on four different sheets of parchment, as will be explained.19

ג לְכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב אַרְבַּע פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל יָד בִּקְלָף אֶחָד,יט,15 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:כ,16 "וְהָיָה לְךָ לְאוֹת", מַשְׁמָע אוֹת אַחַת,כא דְּהַיְנוּ בַּיִת אֶחָד, שֶׁהוּא אוֹת הַנִּרְאֶה מִבַּחוּץ, וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהִיא אוֹת אַחַת מִבַּחוּץ17 – כָּךְ יֵשׁ לִהְיוֹת אוֹת אַחַת מִבִּפְנִים,כב שֶׁתִּהְיֶינָה כָּל הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת כְּאִגֶּרֶת אַחַת עַל קְלָף אֶחָד.18

אֲבָל בִּתְפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ אַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים – צָרִיךְ שֶׁתִּהְיֶינָה הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת כְּתוּבוֹת בְּאַרְבָּעָה קְלָפִים לְכַתְּחִלָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:כג,19

Fig. 14: These four passages for the head-tefillin were written by one of the expert contemporary exponents of “the Alter Rebbe’s script.” Nevertheless, this illustration is not intended as a definitive guide to lettering, spacing, indentations and the like.
Fig. 14: These four passages for the head-tefillin were written by one of the expert contemporary exponents of “the Alter Rebbe’s script.” Nevertheless, this illustration is not intended as a definitive guide to lettering, spacing, indentations and the like.

4 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Mount Sinai that [the passages of] tefillin may be written only with ink.20 Moreover, there is an authority21 who rules that Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzos22 may be written only with ink that can be erased, as in the passage concerning the sotah:23 “[The kohen] shall write [these curses on a scroll] and [then] blot [them] out,” [implying] that the script must be erasable. And since one traditional interpretation equates [the kohen’s] writing with the writing required for Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzos, [the latter writing, too, must be erasable].24 Accordingly, vitriol25 should not be mixed with the ink, because it creates a very distinct image and cannot be entirely erased.

It is appropriate to respect this opinion as the initially preferred option and [instead] to make ink out of [soot from] the smoke of [burning] wood or from oils saturated with gallnut juice and the like, so that if one would [try to] erase it, [the writing] would be erased. Any [substance whose] smoke [produces soot] may be used for the ink,26 but [soot from the smoke of] olive oil is the most desirable.27

If, however, one wrote Torah scrolls, tefillin, or mezuzos using a mixture of gallnut juice and vitriol which is long-lasting and cannot be erased, they are valid. For the predominant view is that we do not equate the writing mentioned in the passage of the sotah to [other] writing. This is the present custom, which is followed even as an initial and preferred option.28

If so, what is implicitly excluded by the [above-mentioned] halachah transmitted to Moshe at Mount Sinai, that [the passages of tefillin] may be written only with ink? Excluded are colors other [than black], such as red, green, or the like. If even one letter in a Torah scroll, in a [passage of] tefillin or in a mezuzah was written in another color or in gold, [the article] is invalid and must be set aside.29 The script in its entirety must be black.

If gold dust was sprinkled over letters,30 the gold should be removed, and then the script remaining below is valid. If, however, one sprinkled gold dust over one of the letters in G‑d’s name, the problem cannot be corrected and [the passage] must be set aside; it is forbidden to remove the gold, for this would be like [violating the prohibition against] erasing G‑d’s name.

ד הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁאֵין הַתְּפִלִּין נִכְתָּבִין אֶלָּא בִּדְיוֹ.כד,20

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁהוֹרָהכה,21 שֶׁאֵין הַסְּתָ"ם22 נִכְתָּבִין אֶלָּא בִּדְיוֹ שֶׁיּוּכַל לְהִמָּחֵק, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּפָרָשַׁת סוֹטָה:כו,23 "וְכָתַב ... וּמָחָה" – כְּתָב שֶׁיּוּכַל לִמְחוֹת,24 וּלְמֵדִין גְּזֵרָה שָׁוָהכז "כְּתִיבָה" "כְּתִיבָה" מִפָּרָשַׁת סוֹטָה לִסְתָ"ם, לְפִיכָךְ אֵין מְטִילִין קַנְקַנְתּוֹם25 לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁרִשּׁוּמוֹ נִכָּר מְאֹד וְאֵינוֹ נִמְחָק לְגַמְרֵי.

וְטוֹב לָחוּשׁ לִדְבָרָיו לְכַתְּחִלָּה,כח לַעֲשׂוֹת הַדְּיוֹ מֵעֲשַׁן עֵצִים אוֹ שְׁמָנִים שְׁרוּיִים בְּמֵי עֲפָצִיםכט וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם, שֶׁאִם תִּמָּחַקְנָה יְהֵא נִמְחָק.ל וְכָל הָעֲשָׁנִים יָפִים לִדְיולאֹ,26 וְשֶׁל שֶׁמֶן זַיִת מִן הַמֻּבְחָר.27

וְאִם כָּתַב סְתָ"ם בְּמֵי עֲפָצִיםלב וְקַנְקַנְתּוֹם שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד וְאֵינוֹ נִמְחָק – כְּשֵׁרִים,לג שֶׁהָעִקָּר שֶׁאֵין לְמֵדִין "כְּתִיבָה" "כְּתִיבָה" מִפָּרָשַׁת סוֹטָה,לד וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין עַכְשָׁו אֲפִלּוּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה.לה,28 אִם כֵּן מַה מִּעֲטָה הֲלָכָה שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַילו שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כּוֹתְבִים בִּדְיוֹ, לְמַעֵט שְׁאָר מִינֵי צִבְעוֹנִים, כְּגוֹן הָאָדֹם וְהַיָּרֹק וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם, שֶׁאִם כָּתַב בִּסְתָ"ם אֲפִלּוּ אוֹת אַחַת בִּשְׁאָר מִינֵי צִבְעוֹנִים אוֹ בְּזָהָב – הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִים,לז וּצְרִיכִים גְּנִיזָה,לח,29 אֶלָּא כָּל הַכְּתָב צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שָׁחֹר.לט

וְאִם זָרַק עַפְרוֹת זָהָב עַל הָאוֹתִיּוֹתמ,30 – מַעֲבִיר הַזָּהָב וְיִשָּׁאֵר כְּתָב הַתַּחְתּוֹן וְכָשֵׁר. אֲבָל אִם זָרַק אֶת הַזָּהָב עַל אוֹת אַחַת מֵהָאַזְכָּרָה אֵין לוֹ תַּקָּנָה וּצְרִיכָה גְּנִיזָה, לְפִי שֶׁאָסוּר לְהַעֲבִיר הַזָּהָב, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹחֵק אֶת הַשֵּׁם:

5 Our Sages31 interpret the word32 וכתבתם — “And you shall write them” — [as a directive to write with] כתב תם, “an unblemished and complete script.” This means that no letter should touch another; rather, each letter should be surrounded by [blank] parchment on all sides,33 and it should have the crownlets34 required by the halachah as detailed in sec. 36[:5].

If the extremity of a large letter touched [a neighboring letter] in such a manner that if the point of contact were scraped away the shape of the letter would remain acceptable, some authorities rule that [the letter] is valid even if [the point of contact] was not scraped away.35 One should, [however,] adopt the stringent view and scrape away [the point of contact]. [See fig. 37.]

In fact one should adopt the stringent view and correct by scraping even when the actual letter does not touch [another letter], but [merely] a crownlet of one letter touches the crownlet of another letter. Moreover, even if the crownlets of one letter touch each other, it is desirable to correct them, as will be explained in sec. 36[:5].

Correction is acceptable even with regard to tefillin and mezuzos,36 even in instances of touching letters which would otherwise be disqualified by all authorities, as will be explained.37

Fig. 15: When the inner edge of the letter pei follows the tradition received from R. Yehudah the Chassid, its silhouette produces the letter beis.

ה "וּכְתַבְתָּם"מא,32 – דָּרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִיםמב,31 שֶׁיְּהֵא כְּתָב תָּם וְשָׁלֵם,מג שֶׁלֹּא תִּדְבַּק אוֹת אַחַת בַּחֲבֶרְתָּהּ,מד אֶלָּא כָּל אוֹת תְּהֵא מֻקֶּפֶת גְּוִיל מִכָּל רוּחוֹתֶיהָ,מה,33 וּתְהֵא מְתֻיֶּגֶת34 כְּהִלְכָתָהּ,מו כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן לו.

וְאִם הָאוֹת גְּדוֹלָהמז וְנִדְבְּקָה בְּסוֹפָהּ בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁאִם יִגְרֹר מַה שֶּׁדָּבוּק יִשָּׁאֵר צוּרַת אוֹת – יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמַּכְשִׁירמח אַף בְּלֹא גְּרִירָה.מט,35 וְיֵשׁ לְהַחְמִירנ וְלִגְרֹר.נא

וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם אֵין הָאוֹת דְּבוּקָה בְּעַצְמָהּ אֶלָּא הַתָּג שֶׁל אוֹת זוֹ דָּבוּק בְּתַג אוֹת אַחֶרֶת – יֵשׁ לְהַחְמִיר וּלְתַקֵּן בִּגְרִירָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם תָּגֵי אוֹת אַחַת דְּבוּקִים זֶה בָּזֶה – טוֹב לְתַקְּנָם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן לו.נב

וְתִקּוּן מוֹעִיל אַף בִּתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזוֹת,נג,36 אַף בִּנְגִיעוֹת אוֹת בְּאוֹת בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁנִּפְסְלוּ לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:נד,37

Fig. 15: When the inner edge of the letter pei follows the tradition received from R. Yehudah the Chassid, its silhouette produces the letter beis.
Fig. 15: When the inner edge of the letter pei follows the tradition received from R. Yehudah the Chassid, its silhouette produces the letter beis.

6 The initial and preferred option is to write with a slightly thick script, so that [the letters] will not [fade or flake off] readily. Likewise, one ought to38 beautify the appearance of the outer [edges of the] letters. How much more should one beautify their inner [edges] — just as the interior of the Beis HaMikdash was lined with gold.39

ו לְכַתְּחִלָּה יִכְתֹּב כְּתִיבָה גַּסָּה קְצָת,נה שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ נִמְחָקִים מְהֵרָה. וְכֵן מִצְוָה38 לְיַפּוֹתָן מִבַּחוּץ לְמַרְאֶה,נו וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן מִבִּפְנִים, שֶׁהֲרֵי בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הָיָה מְצֻפֶּה זָהָב מִבִּפְנִים:נז,39

7 There are authorities who maintain that [a scribe] must write [the passages for tefillin] with his right hand, and that if he writes with his left hand, they are invalid, for this is not the common mode of writing, and indeed is [considered] anomalous. For a person who writes with his left hand on Shabbos is not [punishable for transgressing the laws of Shabbos]40 — and it is unthinkable that a person write a Torah scroll, tefillin, or a mezuzah on Shabbos and not be liable.41

Even if a person is ambidextrous, the initial and preferred option is that he write [tefillin passages] with his right hand, though if he wrote them with his left hand, they are valid. A left-handed person should, however, write with the hand that is “right for him,” i.e., his left hand.42 If he writes with the hand which is “left for him,” i.e., his right hand, [the passages] are invalid.

Nevertheless, if it is impossible to find other [passages for] tefillin which were written with the right hand, [passages] written with the left hand should be deemed valid, whether written by a left-handed person or a right-handed person,43 for this disqualification is not mentioned in the Talmud.44 If, however, a person wrote [the passages] with his mouth, i.e., he held the pen with his lips and wrote, [the passages] are invalid even if no others can be found. For certainly, writing with one’s mouth is not at all the ordinary way of writing.45

ז יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםנח שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב בְּיָמִין, וְאִם כָּתַב בִּשְׂמֹאל – פָּסוּל,נט לְפִי שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ כְּתִיבָה בְּכָךְ,ס וּכְתִיבָה כִּלְאַחַר יָד הִיא,סא שֶׁהֲרֵי הַכּוֹתֵב בְּשַׁבָּת בְּיָד שְׂמֹאל – פָּטוּר,סב,40 וְאֵין סְבָרָא שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב אָדָם סְתָ"ם בְּשַׁבָּת וְיִפָּטֵר.סג,41

וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם שׁוֹלֵט בִּשְׁתֵּי יָדָיוסד – צָרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב לְכַתְּחִלָּה בְּיָמִין, וְאִם כָּתַב בִּשְׂמֹאל – כָּשֵׁר.סה

וְאִטֵּר יִכְתֹּב בְּיָמִין שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁהִיא שְׂמֹאל שֶׁל כָּל אָדָם,סו,42 וְאִם כָּתַב בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ שֶׁהוּא יָמִין שֶׁל כָּל אָדָם – פָּסוּל.סז

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לִמְצֹא תְּפִלִּין אֲחֵרִים שֶׁנִּכְתְּבוּ בְּיָמִין – יֵשׁ לְהַכְשִׁיר הַנִּכְתָּבִים בִּשְׂמֹאל,סח בֵּין בְּאִטֵּר בֵּין בִּשְׂמֹאל שֶׁל כָּל אָדָם,43 מֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא הֻזְכַּר פְּסוּל זֶה בַּתַּלְמוּד.סט,44

אֲבָל כָּתַב בְּפִיו,ע שֶׁתָּפַס הַקּוּלְמוּס בִּשְׂפָתָיו וְכָתַב בּוֹ – פְּסוּלִים אֲפִלּוּ אִי אֶפְשָׁר לִמְצֹא אֲחֵרִים, שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי אֵין דֶּרֶךְ כְּתִיבָה כְּלָל בַּפֶּה:עא,45

8 Unlike mezuzos, concerning which there is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Mount Sinai that every line [of the parchment] must be scored,46 [the passages of] tefillin do not require this, except for the uppermost line.47

[This is required because,] as an initial and preferred option, it is forbidden by Rabbinic decree to write three words from a verse of the Tanach without scoring the parchment, as stated in Yoreh Deah 284:2. The other lines, however, need not be scored, for the uppermost line of text serves as scoring for the line below it,48 as explained there.

One should not adopt a stringent stance and score all the lines, because “whoever observes a practice from which he is exempt is considered a commoner.”49 Nevertheless, if [the scribe] cannot write a line straight if it is not scored, it is advisable that he score all the lines so that the script will be straight and regular, in the spirit of the verse,50 “This is my G‑d, and I will glorify Him.”

[Moreover,] even if [the scribe] is able to write [the lines] straight without scoring them, but scores them so that he will be able to write more beautifully and in straighter lines, he is not considered a commoner [for doing so]. For he is not observing this practice as a stringency, but rather in order to write straighter (and thus enhance his observance of the mitzvah). (See [the gloss of] Beis Yosef [to the Tur]).

The statement that “whoever observes a practice from which he is exempt is considered a commoner” applies only when he does so as a stringency (at a time when he will not risk a transgression if he does not follow this stringency, nor will the observance of a mitzvah be enhanced if he does follow it. If it leads to the enhancement of a mitzvah, or if he follows this practice as a protective safeguard so that he not transgress, he is not considered a commoner [for observing the stringency].

These in fact are the reasons for all the stringencies required by the later sages. They are either protective restrictions so that one will not come to transgress a prohibitive commandment, or even a minor prohibition which the Talmudic Sages deemed necessary, or they are measures for the enhancement of some positive commandment, even one which is Rabbinic in origin. If, however, [one undertakes a stringency] when the enhancement [of a positive commandment] is not involved, e.g., one sits in a sukkah while it is raining, he is considered a commoner, as stated in sec. 639[:23].51 The same [principle] applies in all similar instances.)

One should not rule the lines with lead52 or similar substances because the scored line remains tinted. After the fact, however, [this kind of scoring] is valid.

Some authorities hold that it is always necessary to score [the parchment] from above and from below53 and at the side margins, both when writing tefillin and whenever one is writing more than three words from a [Biblical] verse, even when [the scribe] is able to write [properly] without scoring lines.

The halachah rules according to the former view, as stated in Yoreh Deah, loc. cit. In the case of tefillin, nevertheless, the custom is to follow the latter, more stringent view.

ח הַתְּפִלִּין אֵינָן כִּמְזוּזָה,עב שֶׁהִיא צְרִיכָה שִׂרְטוּט מֵהֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי בְּכָל שִׁיטָה וְשִׁיטָה,46 אֲבָל בִּתְפִלִּין אֵין צָרִיךְ שִׂרְטוּט, כִּי אִם בַּשִּׁיטָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה,עג,47 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאָסוּר מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים לִכְתֹּב לְכַתְּחִלָּה שָׁלֹשׁ תֵּבוֹת מִפָּסוּק מִכִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ בְּלֹא שִׂרְטוּט,עד כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן רפד [סָעִיף ב], אֲבָל שְׁאָר הַשִּׁיטוֹת אֵין צָרִיךְ שִׂרְטוּט, כִּי הַשִּׁיטָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה נַעֲשֵׂית כְּמוֹ שִׂרְטוּט לְמַה שֶּׁתַּחְתֶּיהָ,עה,48 כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר שָׁם.

וְאֵין לוֹ לְהַחְמִיר וּלְשַׂרְטֵט בְּכָל הַשִּׁיטוֹת,עו מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכָּל הַפָּטוּר מִן הַדָּבָר וְעוֹשֵׂהוּ – נִקְרָא הֶדְיוֹט.עז,49 אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְיַשֵּׁר הַשִּׁיטָה בְּלֹא שִׂרְטוּט – טוֹב הוּא שֶׁיְּשַׂרְטֵט כָּל הַשּׁוּרוֹת,עח כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַכְּתָב מְיֻשָּׁר וְשָׁוֶה, מִשּׁוּם50 "זֶה אֵלִי וְאַנְוֵהוּ".עט וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם יוֹדֵעַ לְיַשֵּׁר אַף בְּלֹא שִׂרְטוּט (עַיֵּן בֵּית יוֹסֵף),פ וּמְשַׂרְטֵט כְּדֵי לִכְתֹּב יוֹתֵר נָאֶה וְיוֹתֵר יָשָׁר – אֵינוֹ נִקְרָא הֶדְיוֹט, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה בְּדֶרֶךְ חֻמְרָא, אֶלָּא כְּדֵי לִכְתֹּב יוֹתֵר בְּיֹשֶׁר (שֶׁהוּא הִדּוּר מִצְוָה).

וְלֹא אָמְרוּ שֶׁכָּל הַפָּטוּר מִן הַדָּבָר כו', אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁעוֹשֶׂה בְּדֶרֶךְ חֻמְרָא (בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי אִסּוּר אִם לֹא יִנְהֹג בְּחֻמְרָא זוֹ,פא וְגַם אֵין בָּהּ מִשּׁוּם הִדּוּר מִצְוָה, אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ בָּהּ אֵיזֶה הִדּוּר לְאֵיזֶה מִצְוָה, וְכֵן אִם הוּא נוֹהֵג בָּהּ לִסְיָג וְגָדֵר שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי אִסּוּרפב – אֵינוֹ נִקְרָא הֶדְיוֹט. וְזֶהוּ טַעַם כָּל הַחֻמְרוֹת שֶׁהֶחְמִירוּ הָאַחֲרוֹנִיםפג שֶׁהֵן אַחַת מִשְׁתַּיִם, אוֹ לִסְיָג וְגָדֵר שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹאוּ לַעֲבֹר עַל אֵיזֶה לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אֲפִלּוּ אִסּוּר קַל שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים כְּשֶׁרָאוּ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְכָךְ, אוֹ מִשּׁוּם הִדּוּר לְאֵיזוֹ מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. אֲבָל בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁלֹּא שַׁיָּךְ הִדּוּר, כְּגוֹן הַיּוֹשֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה בִּשְׁעַת הַגְּשָׁמִים – הֲרֵי זֶה הֶדְיוֹט, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תרלט,פד,51 וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה).

וְלֹא יְשַׂרְטֵט בְּעוֹפֶרֶתפה,52 וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמְּקוֹם הַשִּׂרְטוּט נִשְׁאָר צָבוּעַ, וּבְדִיעֲבַד כָּשֵׁר.פו

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםפז שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְשַׂרְטֵט תָּמִיד לְמַעְלָה וּלְמַטָּה53 וּמִן הַצְּדָדִים, בֵּין בִּתְפִלִּין, בֵּין בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁכּוֹתֵב שָׁלֹשׁ תֵּבוֹת מִפָּסוּק,פח וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ לִכְתֹּב בְּלֹא שִׂרְטוּט.

וְהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה שָׁם, וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן נוֹהֲגִין לְהַחְמִיר בִּתְפִלִּין כַּסְּבָרָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה:פט

9 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Mount Sinai that tefillin may not be written on duchsustus or on gvil, but only on klaf,54 otherwise they are invalid. [When writing] on klaf, one may write only on the surface that faces the flesh [of the animal]; if one wrote on the surface that faces the hair, [the passages] are invalid.

What is meant by klaf and what is meant by duchsustus? In the course of being processed, the [dual thickness of a] hide, known as gvil, is split into two skins. The outer skin that faces the hair is called klaf, for it is peeled off (niklaf) from the inner skin, which is attached to the flesh. This [inner skin] is called duchsustus [lit., “at the place of the flesh”], for duch is Aramaic for “place” and sustus is Greek55 for “flesh.” The requirement that one must write on the surface of the klaf that faces the flesh refers to the surface that is closer to the flesh of the animal, i.e., the interface with the duchsustus.

[Today’s] gvil, which is not split [into two skins], is [nevertheless] considered klaf, and [the passages of] tefillin are written on the side facing the flesh. For the tough and hairy outer surface of the hide is scraped only to the extent needed to make it usable and smooth. In fact, even if the hide were to be split into two skins, it would be necessary to scrape off this much of it.56 Moreover, much is scraped off from the surface facing the flesh, until all that remains is the klaf alone.

ט הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַיצ שֶׁאֵין תְּפִלִּין נִכְתָּבוֹת אֶלָּא עַל הַקְּלָף, וְלֹא עַל הַדּוּכְסוּסְטוּס וְלֹא עַל הַגְּוִיל,54 וְאִם שִׁנָּה – פָּסוּל. וְאֵין כּוֹתְבִין עַל הַקְּלָף אֶלָּא בִּמְקוֹם בָּשָׂר, וְאִם כָּתַב בִּמְקוֹם שֵׂעָר – פָּסוּל.

מַהוּ קְלָף? וּמַהוּ דּוּכְסוּסְטוּס?צא הָעוֹר בִּשְׁעַת עִבּוּדוֹ, שֶׁהוּא נִקְרָא גְּוִיל, הָיוּ חוֹלְקִין אוֹתוֹ לִשְׁנַיִם, וְהַחֵלֶק הַחִיצוֹן שֶׁהוּא לְצַד הַשֵּׂעָר – נִקְרָא קְלָף,צב שֶׁנִּקְלַף מֵחֵלֶק הַפְּנִימִי הַדָּבוּק לַבָּשָׂר, הַנִּקְרָא "דּוּכְסוּסְטוּס", כִּי "דּוּךְ" הוּא מָקוֹם בְּלָשׁוֹן אֲרַמִּי, וְ"סוּסְטוּס" הוּא בָּשָׂר בִּלְשׁוֹן יָוָן.55 וּמַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ שֶׁכּוֹתְבִין עַל הַקְּלָף בִּמְקוֹם בָּשָׂר, הוּא בְּמָקוֹם הַיּוֹתֵר קָרוֹב לַבָּשָׂר, דְּהַיְנוּ בִּמְקוֹם חִבּוּרוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא דָּבוּק לַדּוּכְסוּסְטוּס.

וּגְוִילִים שֶׁלָּנוּ שֶׁאֵין חוֹלְקִים אוֹתָם – יֵשׁ לָהֶם דִּין קְלָף, וְכוֹתְבִין עֲלֵיהֶם תְּפִלִּין בַּצַּד שֶׁכְּלַפֵּי הַבָּשָׂר, כִּי מַה שֶּׁמְּגָרְרִים מֵהָעוֹר קְלִפָּתוֹ הָעֶלְיוֹנָה שֶׁבִּמְקוֹם שֵׂעָר, אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא כְּדֵי מַה שֶּׁצָּרִיךְ לְתַקְּנוֹ וּלְהַחְלִיקוֹ,צג וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הָיוּ חוֹלְקִין אוֹתוֹ לִשְׁנַיִם – הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל־כָּךְ,56 וּמִצַּד הַבָּשָׂר גּוֹרְרִין מִמֶּנּוּ הַרְבֵּה עַד שֶׁאֵין נִשְׁאָר אֶלָּא הַקְּלָף בִּלְבַד:

10The klaf must be made of a hide that has been treated with gallnut juice, lime,57 or other similar substances which constrict the hide and strengthen it. Otherwise, it is called diftera. [Being incompletely processed, such parchment] is not called a scroll (ספר) in Hebrew,58 and is [therefore] invalid for the writing of a Torah scroll, for several times59 the Torah refers to itself as a scroll.

Similarly, [it is invalid] for the writing of tefillin or mezuzos. (For the fact that the term “writing” is used with regard to both a Torah scroll and a mezuzah establishes an analogy between the two.60 And a comparative association61 is established between tefillin, concerning which the Torah states,62 “And you shall bind them,” and the mezuzah, concerning which [the following verse states], “And you shall write them.” Accordingly, a Torah scroll and [the passages of] tefillin likewise require a “perfect script.”63 For with regard to a mezuzah [the Torah] states וכתבתם — “and you shall write them,” [teaching that the script must be perfect (כתיבה תמה), and because of the above associations] this requirement for a mezuzah is also applied to a Torah scroll and to tefillin.)

[When processing the hide,] one should be careful to leave it in the lime until its hair falls off unaided. If [the hide] is removed [from the lime] before that time, it may not be used for writing, for it is not fully processed and is still called diftera.

י הַקְּלָף צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת מֵעוֹר הַמְעֻבָּד בַּעֲפָצִיםצד אוֹ בְּסִידצה,57 וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ מִדְּבָרִים הַמְכַוְּצִים אֶת הָעוֹר וּמַחֲזִיקִין אוֹתוֹ,צו שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן – הֲרֵי הוּא נִקְרָא דִּפְתְּרָא,צז וְאֵינוֹ נִקְרָא סֵפֶר בְּלָשׁוֹן עִבְרִי,צח,58 וּפָסוּל לִכְתֹּב עָלָיו סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, שֶׁנִּקְרָא "סֵפֶר" בְּכַמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה,צט,59 וְהוּא הַדִּין לִכְתֹּב עָלָיו תְּפִלִּיןק אוֹ מְזוּזוֹת (שֶׁנִּלְמָדִים בִּגְזֵרָה שָׁוָה "כְּתִיבָה" "כְּתִיבָה" מִסֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה,קא,60 שֶׁבִּמְזוּזָה נֶאֱמַר "כְּתִיבָה" בְּפֵרוּשׁ, וּתְפִלִּין הֻקְּשׁוּ לִמְזוּזָה,קב,61 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:קג,62 "וּקְשַׁרְתָּם .. וּכְתַבְתָּם", שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי זֶה צָרִיךְ גַּם בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וּתְפִלִּין כְּתִיבָה תַּמָּה,קד,63 מִמַּה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר בִּמְזוּזָה "וּכְתַבְתָּם",קה וּלְמֵדִין הֵימֶנָּה לִתְפִלִּין בְּהֶקֵּשׁ, וּלְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בִּגְזֵרָה שָׁוָה).

וְצָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁיְּהֵא הָעוֹר מֻנָּח בְּסִיד עַד שֶׁיִּפֹּל הַשֵּׂעָר מֵעָלָיו מֵאֵלָיו,קו וְאִם מוֹצִיאוֹ קֹדֶם לָכֵן – לֹא יִכְתֹּב עָלָיו, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְעַבֵּד כָּל צָרְכּוֹ וְדִפְתְּרָא הוּא:

11 [The hide] must be processed with the intent that it be used for [the mitzvah for which it is intended].64 For example, [parchment to be used] for a Torah scroll must be processed with that intent in mind. [Parchment to be used] for tefillin must be processed with that intent, and [parchment to be used] for a mezuzah, with that intent.

If, however, [parchment] is processed with the intent that it be used for a Torah scroll, it is also valid for tefillin and for a mezuzah. For the sanctity of a Torah scroll is greater than that of tefillin and of a mezuzah. Thus [the parchment] is considered as if it had been processed for the sake of tefillin or a mezuzah as well, just as [the number] 200 subsumes 100.65 However, [parchment] processed with the intent that it be used for a mezuzah is invalid for tefillin, for the sanctity of tefillin is greater than that of a mezuzah.66

It is desirable to make a verbal statement [that one is processing the parchment] for the sake of a Torah scroll or for the sake of tefillin. Merely having the intent in mind is not sufficient.67

יא וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּהֵא מְעֻבָּד לִשְׁמוֹ,קז,64 כְּגוֹן בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה – לְשֵׁם סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, וּבִתְפִלִּין – לְשֵׁם תְּפִלִּין,קח וּבִמְזוּזָה – לְשֵׁם מְזוּזָה.

וְהַמְעֻבָּד לְשֵׁם סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה – כָּשֵׁר גַּם לִתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזָה,קט שֶׁהֲרֵי קְדֻשַּׁת סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה חֲמוּרָה מִקְּדֻשַּׁת תְּפִלִּיןקי וּמְזוּזָה, וַהֲרֵי זֶה כְּאִלּוּ נִתְעַבֵּד גַּם לִתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזָה,קיא שֶׁיֵּשׁ בִּכְלַל מָאתַיִם מָנֶה.קיב,65

אֲבָל הַמְעֻבָּד לְשֵׁם מְזוּזָה – פָּסוּל לִתְפִלִּין, כִּי קְדֻשַּׁת הַתְּפִלִּין גְּדוֹלָה מִקְּדֻשַּׁת הַמְּזוּזָה.66

וְטוֹב שֶׁיּוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיוקיג לְשֵׁם סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אוֹ לְשֵׁם תְּפִלִּין, וְלֹא דַּי בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה:67

12 Some authorities disqualify parchment that was processed by a non-Jew, even if he is being supervised by a Jew68 who instructs him to process [the parchment] for the proper intent, just as a bill of divorce written by a non-Jew [for a Jewish couple] is invalid69 even if he is being supervised by a Jew who instructs him to write it specifically for this particular husband and wife.

[The rationale is] that a non-Jew acts on his own initiative and does not heed [the instructions given him by] the Jew. (Even if he says that he is taking heed, his mouth does not echo his heart, and even if he says that his mouth does follow his heart, his words are not to be believed.70)

Other authorities consider [parchment processed by a non-Jew] valid if he is being supervised by a Jew who instructs him to process it for the proper intent. This case cannot be likened to a bill of divorce, the entire core of which must be written specifically for this particular husband and wife. With regard to such [an involved task, it cannot be assumed] that the non-Jew will heed [the Jew’s instructions]. With regard to the processing of parchment, by contrast, the intent that it be used for the mitzvah is necessary only when the parchment is put into the lime. With regard to such [a specific act, it may be assumed] that [the non-Jew] will heed [the instructions].71

Nevertheless, as an initial and preferred option, [a Jew] should also help somewhat with the processing. It is customary in these countries72 [to follow this latter opinion], for Jewish parchment processors are not found in all places.

The help should be given in the actual processing [of the hide]; it is not sufficient to help blacken the straps [of the tefillin], for this is not part of the task of processing [the parchment].

After the fact, even if [a Jew] did not help [the non-Jew with the processing of the parchment] at all, but merely directed him to put it in the lime for the sake of the mitzvah, [the parchment] is valid. If a Jew puts it in the lime for the sake of the mitzvah, he may allow the non-Jew to remove it and prepare it alone; there is no need to help him further.

יב אִם עִבְּדוֹ נָכְרִיקיד – יֵשׁ פּוֹסְלִין,קטו אֲפִלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּיו68 וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ שֶׁיְּעַבֵּד לִשְׁמוֹ,קטז כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַגֵּט שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ נָכְרִי – פָּסוּל,קיז,69 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּיו וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ שֶׁיִּכְתְּבֶנּוּ לִשְׁמוֹ וְלִשְׁמָהּ, לְפִי שֶׁהַנָּכְרִי לְדַעַת עַצְמוֹ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה וְאֵינוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ לְהַיִּשְׂרָאֵל (וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר שֶׁשּׁוֹמֵעַ לוֹ – אֵין פִּיו וְלִבּוֹ שָׁוִין, וְאַף אִם אוֹמֵר שֶׁכְּפִיו כָּךְ לִבּוֹ – אֵין נֶאֱמָן עַל כָּךְ).קיח,70

וְיֵשׁ מַכְשִׁירִיןקיט כְּשֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּיו וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ שֶׁיְעַבְּדֶנוּ לִשְׁמוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לְגֵט,קכ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב כָּל תֹּרֶף הַגֵּט לִשְׁמוֹ וְלִשְׁמָהּ, וְזֶה לֹא יִשְׁמַע לוֹ, אֲבָל בְּעִבּוּד אֵין צָרִיךְ רַק כְּשֶׁנּוֹתֵן הָעוֹר לְתוֹךְ הַסִּיד שֶׁיִּתְּנֶנּוּ לִשְׁמוֹ, וְזֶה יִשְׁמַע לוֹ.קכא,71

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, לְכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לְסַיְּעוֹ קְצָת בְּעִבּוּדָהּ.קכב וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִים בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ,קכג,72 שֶׁאֵין עַבְּדָנִים יִשְׂרְאֵלִים מְצוּיִים בְּכָל הַמְּקוֹמוֹת.קכד

וְצָרִיךְ לְסַיְּעוֹ בָּעִבּוּד עַצְמוֹ,קכה אֲבָל אֵין מוֹעִיל מַה שֶּׁמְּסַיְּעוֹ לְהַשְׁחִיר הָרְצוּעוֹת, שֶׁאֵין זֶה מִמְּלֶאכֶת הָעִבּוּד. וּבְדִיעֲבַד אֲפִלּוּ לֹא סִיְּעוֹ כְּלָל,קכו רַק שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ שֶׁיִּתֵּן לְתוֹךְ הַסִּיד לִשְׁמוֹ – כָּשֵׁר.קכז וְאִם הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל נוֹתְנוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הַסִּיד לִשְׁמוֹ – מַנִּיחַ אֶת הַנָּכְרִי בִּלְבַדּוֹ לְהוֹצִיאוֹ לְתַקְּנוֹ,קכח וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְסַיְּעוֹ עוֹד:קכט

13 If hides given to a non-Jew to process for use [in the mitzvah for which it is intended] are identified by signs resembling letters, which the owner punctures with an awl so that the non-Jew not exchange [these hides] for others, [we do not suspect that the non-Jew will forge this sign]. Although this is easy, for he could place the [punctured] hide on top of another hide which he could now puncture [identically] by inserting an awl in the holes made by the Jew, we do not suspect that he will do this — either because he will be afraid the Jew will recognize his own signs, or because the new holes will appear more recent than those made by the Jew.

[The question of whether] a hide which was processed without the intent of being used for a mitzvah can be corrected by reprocessing it for the sake of the mitzvah is discussed in Yoreh Deah, sec. 271.73

יג עוֹרוֹת שֶׁנּוֹתְנִין לַנָּכְרִי לְעַבְּדָן לִשְׁמָן,קל וּמְסַמֵּן אוֹתָם בִּנְקָבִים שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה בָּהֶן בְּמַרְצֵעַ כְּעֵין אוֹתִיּוֹת, שֶׁלֹּא יַחֲלִיפֵם הַנָּכְרִי בְּעוֹרוֹת אֲחֵרִים – אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנָּקֵל לַנָּכְרִי לְזַיֵּף, שֶׁיַּנִּיחַ עוֹר זֶה עַל גַּבֵּי עוֹר אַחֶרֶת וִינַקְּבֵם בְּמַרְצֵעַ דֶּרֶךְ הַנְּקָבִים שֶׁעָשָׂה הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל – אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לְכָךְ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּתְיָרֵא הַנָּכְרִי פֶּן יַכִּיר הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל בִּטְבִיעוּת עַיִן שֶׁנָּתַן בְּסִימָנִים, אוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵלּוּ הַנְּקָבִים נַעֲשׂוּ יוֹתֵר מֵחָדָשׁ מִשֶּׁלּוֹ.

(א) עוֹר שֶׁעִבְּדוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמוֹ,קלא אִם יֵשׁ תִּקּוּן לַחֲזֹר וּלְעַבְּדוֹ לִשְׁמוֹ – יִתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן רעא:קלב,73

14 The parchment must come from the hide of a domesticated animal, wild beast, or fowl, of a kosher74 species, even if that creature died without ritual slaughter75 or was deemed a treifah.76

It may not come from the hide of a domesticated animal, wild beast, or fowl, of a non-kosher77 species. [This restriction is derived78 from] the verse,79 “[And it shall be for you as a sign upon your arm and as a reminder between your eyes,] so that the Torah of G‑d shall be in your mouth.....” [The connection implied by the verse teaches that the tefillin may be made only from species] that are permitted “in your mouth.”

Nor may [the parchment for tefillin be made from] the skin of a fish, even if it is of a kosher species, because [such parchment] is malodorous.

Similarly, whenever G‑d’s name is written, even when it is not [written] for a Torah scroll or tefillin or mezuzos, it may not be written on parchment from a non-kosher species of animal or the like.

יד צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַקְּלָף מֵעוֹר בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה אוֹ עוֹף הַטְּהוֹרִים,קלג,74 וַאֲפִלּוּ מִנְּבֵלוֹת75 וּטְרֵפוֹת76 שֶׁלָּהֶן. אֲבָל לֹא מֵעוֹר בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וְעוֹף הַטְּמֵאִין,77 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:קלד,79 "לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת ה' בְּפִיךָ" – מִן הַמֻּתָּר בְּפִיךָ.קלה וְלֹא מֵעוֹר הַדָּג אֲפִלּוּ הוּא טָהוֹר,קלו מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֻּהֲמָתוֹ רַבָּה. וְכֵן כָּל אַזְכָּרָהקלז אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא בִּסְתָ"ם – אֵין כּוֹתְבִין אוֹתוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי עוֹר בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ:קלח,78

15 Conscientious scribes make three types of parchment: a thicker one on which to write the passage beginning Shema, which is short, a thinner one for the passage Vehayah ki yeviacha, which is longer, and for the passages Kadesh and Vehayah im shamoa, which are long, they prepare very thin parchment. All the [four] compartments [of the head-tefillin] are thus filled [with scrolls of] equal [diameter].80 This beautifies the tefillin.

טו הַסּוֹפְרִים הַזְּרִיזִים עוֹשִׂים שְׁלֹשָׁה מִינֵי קְלָפִים:קלט הָעָב יוֹתֵר לִכְתֹּב בּוֹ פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" שֶׁהִיא קְטַנָּה, וְהַדַּק מִמֶּנּוּ לְפָרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ" שֶׁהִיא יוֹתֵר גְּדוֹלָה, וּלְפָרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ" וּלְפָרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ" שֶׁהֵן אֲרֻכּוֹת – עוֹשִׂים קְלָף דַּק מְאֹד, וּבָזֶה יִתְמַלְּאוּ הַבָּתִּים בְּשָׁוֶה,80 וְזֶהוּ נוֹי תְּפִלִּין:

16 As explained above,81 the script must be perfect and complete. There must therefore be no holes in the parchment in the places where one is writing. If one wrote in a place where a hole is located, [the passage] is invalid, because such script is not perfect and complete, but interrupted.

Even if the hole does not intercept the entire width of [one of the strokes of] the letter from one side to the other, but is located in its midst and is surrounded by ink on every side [as in fig. 16], [the letter is still invalidated,] for where the hole is located, the letter is intercepted and divided in two. [This applies] even if the width of the script on either side of the hole [still] meets the [minimum requirements of] thickness required for this letter [on either side of the hole].82 [See fig. 17.]

Moreover, the letter [is invalid] even if the length of the letter until the hole also exceeds the minimum required length of this letter [see fig. 18], for the hole is considered to be intercepting the body of the letter. The long part of the letter that reaches up to the hole is thus not surrounded by [blank] parchment, nor is the width of [the stroke of] the letter [that remains] at the sides of the hole surrounded by [blank] parchment — and the entire letter must be surrounded by [blank] parchment on all sides; no part of it may be left without [blank] parchment surrounding it.83

[In the above case of a hole located in the midst of the width of the script,] the [blank] parchment at the outer edge of the stroke on one side of the hole cannot serve [as a surround] for the stroke [that borders the hole] on the other side, because the hole intercepts them and divides them in two. In the same way, the [blank] parchment at the end of the [shorter] part of the letter beyond the hole cannot serve [as a surround] for [the longer part of] the letter that reaches as far as the hole.

(Nevertheless, [since the script bordering the hole meets the minimum requirements for the width of the letter], one may scrape away [the ink] at the side of the hole, so that there will be blank parchment between the hole and the width of the letter at its side. Similarly, if it is possible to scrape away part of the [length of the bulk of the] letter above the hole, and yet leave the minimum length of the letter, this [adjustment] is sufficient [to render the letter valid].

This applies even if one has already written many [letters] after this letter. One is not considered [by the subsequent adjustment] to have written the letters in incorrect sequence, for there is nothing [intrinsically] invalid about [the shape of] this letter; it is only that it is not surrounded by [blank] parchment, as will be explained.)84

טז כְּבָר נִתְבָּאֵרקמ,81 שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כְּתִיבָה תַּמָּה וּשְׁלֵמָה, לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה בַּקְלָף שׁוּם נֶקֶב בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיִכְתֹּב.קמא וְאִם כָּתַב בִּמְקוֹם נֶקֶב פָּסוּל,קמב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינָהּ כְּתִיבָה תַּמָּה וּשְׁלֵמָהקמג אֶלָּא מֻפְסֶקֶת. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם אֵין הַנֶּקֶב מַפְסִיק כָּל עֳבִי הָאוֹת מֵעֵבֶר אֶל עֵבֶר,קמד אֶלָּא הוּא בְּאֶמְצַע הָעֹבִי, וּדְיוֹ מַקִּיפוֹ מִכָּל צַדקמה – מִכָּל מָקוֹם בְּאוֹתוֹ מְקוֹם הַנֶּקֶב הִיא מֻפְסֶקֶת וַחֲלוּקָה לִשְׁתַּיִם.קמו וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם יֵשׁ (ב) בְּעָבְיָהּ שֶׁמִּשְּׁנֵי צִדְדֵי הַנֶּקֶב כְּשִׁעוּר עֹבִי הַצָּרִיךְ לְאוֹת זוֹ.קמז,82

וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם גַּם יֵשׁ בְּאֹרֶךְ הָאוֹת עַד הַנֶּקֶב כְּשִׁעוּר אֹרֶךְ הַצָּרִיךְ לְאוֹת זוֹקמח – מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁאָנוּ חוֹשְׁבִים הַנֶּקֶב לְפִסּוּק בְּגוּף הָאוֹת,קמט אִם כֵּן אֵין שָׁם הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל לְאֹרֶךְ הָאוֹת שֶׁעַד הַנֶּקֶב, וְכֵן לָעֹבִי שֶׁבְּצִדְדֵי הַנֶּקֶב – אֵין שָׁם הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל בִּמְקוֹם הַנֶּקֶב, וְהָאוֹת צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת כֻּלָּהּ מֻקֶּפֶת גְּוִיל מִכָּל רוּחוֹתֶיהָ,קנ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה מַשֶּׁהוּ מִמֶּנָּה בְּלֹא הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל.83

וְהַגְּוִיל שֶׁבְּסִיּוּם הָעֹבִי שֶׁמִּצַּד זֶה שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב אֵינוֹ מוֹעִיל לְהָעֹבִי שֶׁמִּצַּד זֶה, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב מַפְסִיק בֵּינֵיהֶם וְחוֹלְקָם לִשְׁנַיִם, וְכֵן הַגְּוִיל שֶׁבְּסִיּוּם אֹרֶךְ הָאוֹת שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַנֶּקֶב אֵינוֹ מוֹעִיל לְאֹרֶךְ הָאוֹת שֶׁעַד הַנֶּקֶב.

(וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם יָכוֹל לִגְרֹר מִן עֹבִי שֶׁמִּצִּדְדֵי הַנֶּקֶב, שֶׁיִּשָּׁאֵר קְלָף חָלָק מַפְסִיק בֵּין הַנֶּקֶב לָעֳבִי הָאוֹת שֶׁבְּצִדּוֹ,קנא וְכֵן אִם יָכוֹל לִגְרֹר מֵאֹרֶךְ שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַנֶּקֶב וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן יִשָּׁאֵר כְּשִׁעוּר אֹרֶךְ הַצָּרִיךְ לְאוֹת זוֹ – הֲרֵי גְּרִירָה זוֹ מוֹעֶלֶת אֲפִלּוּ אִם כְּבָר כָּתַב הַרְבֵּה אַחַר אוֹת זוֹ, וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין פְּסוּל בְּאוֹת זוֹ, אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל,קנב כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר):קנג,84

Fig. 16
Fig. 16

Fig. 17
Fig. 17

Fig. 18
Fig. 18

17 The above applies {with regard to a hole that was made before the writing}85 when the empty space of the hole can be seen by the eye86 as dividing the letter in two. Whenever, by contrast, ink passes over a hole and closes it, and it does not appear as a hole except when held up to the sun, it is not considered a hole at all. One may write on [such parchment even] as an initial option.

For this reason, license was granted to write on parchment made from the processed skin of a fowl, even though it is entirely filled with small holes where the feathers were located.

יז וְכָל זֶה (בְּנֶקֶב הַנַּעֲשָׂה קֹדֶם הַכְּתִיבָה),קנד,85 כְּשֶׁחֲלַל הַנֶּקֶב נִרְאָה לָעַיִן,קנה,86 שֶׁנִּרְאֵית הָאוֹת חֲלוּקָה לִשְׁתַּיִם בִּמְקוֹם הַנֶּקֶב,קנו אֲבָל כָּל נֶקֶב שֶׁהַדְּיוֹ עוֹבֵר עָלָיו וּסוֹתְמוֹקנז וְאֵינוֹ נִרְאֶה אֶלָּא נֶגֶד הַשֶּׁמֶשׁקנח – אֵינוֹ נֶקֶב כְּלָל, וְכוֹתְבִין עָלָיו לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה הִתִּירוּ לִכְתֹּב עַל עוֹר עוֹף הַמְעֻבָּד,קנט אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ מָלֵא נְקָבִים דַּקִּים מִמְּקוֹם הַנּוֹצוֹת:

18 The above applies with regard to a hole that was made before the writing took place. Thus, at the time of writing, the script was already intercepted by the hole and was not perfect and complete.

[Different rules apply, however,] if the writing was perfect as required by law [at the outset], but was perforated later. Even if the hole intercepts the entire width of [one of the strokes of] the letter from one side to the other and [the letter] appears to be divided in two [see fig. 19], it is valid if the length [of the remaining bulk of the letter] that reaches as far as the hole meets the minimum requirements for that letter without any need to consider the part [beyond] the hole.

Moreover, it is valid even if the part until the hole does not meet the minimum requirements for [the length of] the letter, but the hole does not intercept the entire width of [the stroke of] the letter [see fig. 20], and a thin, uninterrupted strip of its width remains at the side of the hole. For if its width had been made this thin at the outset, it would [also] have been valid, since [the Sages] did not prescribe any minimum width for the [component strokes of the] letters; they may be made as thin as one desires.

יח וְכָל זֶה בְּנֶקֶב הַנַּעֲשָׂה קֹדֶם הַכְּתִיבָה,קס שֶׁבִּשְׁעַת הַכְּתִיבָה כְּבָר הִיא מֻפְסֶקֶת עַל יְדֵי הַנֶּקֶב וְאֵינָהּ תַּמָּה וּשְׁלֵמָה. אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה כְּתִיבָה תַּמָּה כְּהִלְכָתָהּ וְאַחַר־כָּךְ אֵרַע בָּהּ נֶקֶב, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב מַפְסִיק כָּל עֳבִי הָאוֹת מֵעֵבֶר לְעֵבֶר וְנִרְאֵית חֲלוּקָה לִשְׁתַּיִם,קסא אִם יֵשׁ בְּאָרְכָּהּ שֶׁעַד הַנֶּקֶב כְּשִׁעוּר הֶכְשֵׁר אוֹת זוֹ בְּלִי צֵרוּף מַה שֶּׁמֵּהַנֶּקֶב וּלְמַטָּה – כְּשֵׁרָה.קסב

וְאַף אִם אֵין כַּשִּׁעוּר עַד הַנֶּקֶב, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב אֵינוֹ מַפְסִיק כָּל עֳבִי הָאוֹת, אֶלָּא נִשְׁאָר מֵעָבְיָהּקסג חוּט דַּק שָׁלֵםקסד בְּצַד הַנֶּקֶב – כְּשֵׁרָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי אִם עָשָׂה עָבְיָהּ דַּק כָּל־כָּךְ מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ – הָיְתָה כְּשֵׁרָה,קסה שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא נָתְנוּ שִׁעוּר לָעֳבִי הָאוֹתִיּוֹת, וְיָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹתָן דַּק כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה:

19 What is the minimum acceptable length for a letter that is intercepted by a hole? If the right leg of a hei, or of a similar letter, such as resh or dalet, has been intercepted [see fig. 21], and what remains above the hole is as big as a small letter, i.e., a yud, [the foreshortened letter] is valid.87

If it is the left leg of the hei that is intercepted by a hole, some authorities rule that the letter is valid even if only a minute part of the leg remains, whether above the hole or below it. Others maintain that the left leg must also be the size of a yud [see fig. 22], and that otherwise the letter is invalid [see fig. 23]. The halachah follows the latter opinion.

If, however, the central space of a hei, a mem, or the like, was perforated [see fig. 24], then even if the hole occupies all of that space so that the letter is not bordered [along its inner edge] by [blank] parchment, it is valid. Similarly, if the outer edge of a letter was not surrounded by [blank] parchment because [part of] that edge was perforated by an elongated hole extending to the edge of the parchment [see fig. 25], the letter is nevertheless valid,88 since it was surrounded by [blank] parchment at the outset, when it was written.

By contrast, [a letter] that was not surrounded by [blank] parchment at the outset is invalid, even if it has the required length and is not severed by a hole at all. In the last line of a column, for example, if the long leg of a final chaf or nun or similar letter reached the lower edge of the parchment from the outset [see fig. 26], the letter is invalid. Nevertheless, if it is possible to scrape away a small part of the letter at the edge of the parchment without encroaching on the letter’s minimum length, this procedure is effective even if the entire passage has been completed. [The passage is] not [disqualified] thereby on the grounds that it was not written in the proper order, for the letter was never inherently invalid; [the difficulty was] only that it was not surrounded by [blank] parchment, as will be explained.89

Other authorities maintain that if a perforation occupies the entire central space of a hei or a mem or a similar letter [see fig. 26], such a letter is invalid because it is not bordered along its inner edge by [blank] parchment, even though it was bordered in this way at the outset.

[Suppose,] however, the perforation does not occupy the whole of that central space, but adjoins [part of the inner edge of] the letter so closely that there is no [blank] parchment whatsoever between [that side of] the letter and the hole within it [see fig. 27]. In such a case, even though a letter must be bordered by [blank] parchment on all sides, [the above-described letter] is considered to be bordered by [blank] parchment even at the site of the hole, by virtue of the [blank] parchment within its central space, on the other side of the hole.

Similarly, if a hole indents the outer edge of a letter, leaving the inner part of the letter intact [see fig. 28], the letter is valid by virtue of that inner part. That part is considered to be surrounded by [blank] parchment, by virtue of the [blank] parchment on the other side of the hole.90

{Similarly,91 if [as in fig. 19 on p. 256] a hole intercepts the entire width [of the script], but [the part of the letter] that remains until the hole has the minimum required length, the letter is rendered valid by this minimum length, which is considered to be surrounded by [blank] parchment even at the lower [i.e., further] extremity of the letter by virtue of the blank parchment below [i.e., beyond] the hole. (If part of the length of this [letter] remains below the hole, this does not disqualify the letter, and it is rendered valid by virtue of the blank parchment at the lower extremity [of the severed remnant] of the letter. For since [this severed remnant] extending from the hole until the [blank] parchment does not constitute another letter, it is not considered as separating the letter proper from the [blank] parchment which surrounds it, just as the hole is not considered as a separation.) If, however, no blank parchment whatsoever remains below the hole, [the letter] is invalid.}

According to this line of thinking, it makes no difference whether the hole existed before [the letter] was written, or appeared afterwards.92 For the blank parchment beyond the hole is considered as adjoining the letter, enabling it to be considered being surrounded by [blank] parchment [despite] the presence of the hole. Accordingly, even if the hole existed before the time of writing, it does not disqualify [the letter] any more than [if the hole appeared] after the time of writing. ([The rationale is that] part of the letter, having the minimum required size, remains intact and unperforated).93

The halachah rules according to the first approach. Nevertheless, one should respect the latter approach and rule stringently when there is no blank parchment at all on the other side of the hole, whether the hole was outside the letter and immediately adjacent to it, or within the letter and occupying its central space entirely.94

Some authorities maintain that even according to the second opinion, even after a letter was written it must be bordered by [blank] parchment only along its outer edge, but not along its inner edge. [Thus,] even if a hole occupies the entire central space of a letter, the letter is valid.95 It is, however, proper to follow the more stringent ruling [and not accept this leniency].

יט וְכַמָּה הוּא שִׁעוּר הֶכְשֵׁר אֹרֶךְ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁנִּפְסְקוּ בְּנֶקֶב? אִם נִפְסְקָה רֶגֶל הַיְמָנִית שֶׁל הֵ"אקסו וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ,קסז כְּגוֹן הָרֵי"שׁ אוֹ הַדָּלֶי"ת, וְנִשְׁתַּיֵּר מִמֶּנָּה לְמַעְלָה מֵהַנֶּקֶבקסח כִּמְלֹא אוֹת קְטַנָּה שֶׁהִיא יוּ"דקסט – כְּשֵׁרָה.87

אֲבָל אִם נִפְסַק הָרֶגֶל הַשְּׂמָאלִית שֶׁל הֵ"א, יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםקע שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ לֹא נִשְׁתַּיֵּר מִמֶּנָּה אֶלָּא כָּל שֶׁהוּא בֵּין לְמַעְלָה מֵהַנֶּקֶב בֵּין לְמַטָּה מֵהַנֶּקֶב – כְּשֵׁרָה.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםקעא שֶׁגַּם רֶגֶל הַשְּׂמָאלִית צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כִּמְלֹא יוּ"ד, וְאִם לָאו – פְּסוּלָה. וְכֵן הֲלָכָה.קעב

אֲבָל אִם נִקַּב תּוֹכָהּקעג שֶׁל הֵ"א אוֹ שֶׁל מֶ"ם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן,קעד אֲפִלּוּ הַנֶּקֶב מְמַלֵּא כָּל הֶחָלָלקעה וְלֹא נִשְׁאָר שָׁם הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל – כְּשֵׁרָה. (ג) וְכֵן אִם אֵין הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל כְּלָל לְאֵיזוֹ אוֹת מִבַּחוּץקעו שֶׁנִּקַּב שָׁם נֶקֶב אָרֹךְ הַמַּגִּיעַ עַד סוֹף הַקְּלָף – כְּשֵׁרָה,88 כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָיְתָה מֻקֶּפֶת קְלָף מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ בִּשְׁעַת הַכְּתִיבָה.

אֲבָל אִם לֹא הָיְתָה מֻקֶּפֶת קְלָף מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא אֲרֻכָּה כָּרָאוּיקעז וְלֹא נִפְסְקָה כְּלָל בְּנֶקֶב, כְּגוֹן רֶגֶל כָּ"ףקעח אוֹ נוּ"ןקעט הַפְּשׁוּטוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁבַּשִּׁיטָה הָאַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁהֵן אֲרֻכּוֹת וּמַגִּיעוֹת עַד סוֹף הַקְּלָף, מִתְּחִלָּתָןקפ – פְּסוּלוֹת.

[וּ]מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם יָכוֹל לִגְרֹר מֵהֶן מְעַט בְּסוֹף הַקְּלָףקפא וְיִשְׁתַּיֵּר בָּהֶן כְּשִׁעוּר – הֲרֵי גְּרִירָה זוֹ מוֹעֶלֶת אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר כְּתִיבַת כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה, וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן,קפב כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ פְּסוּלוֹת תְּחִלָּה, רַק מִשּׁוּם חֶסְרוֹן הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל בִּלְבַד כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִתְבָּאֵר.קפג,89

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםקפד שֶׁאִם הַנֶּקֶב מְמַלֵּא כָּל חֲלַל הַהֵ"א אוֹ הַמֶּ"ם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן – פְּסוּלוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינָן מֻקָּפוֹת גְּוִיל בְּתוֹכָן, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיוּ מֻקָּפוֹת מִתְּחִלָּתָן.

אֲבָל אִם אֵין הַנֶּקֶב מְמַלֵּא כָּל הֶחָלָל,קפה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב הוּא סָמוּךְ לָאוֹת מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁאַר קְלָף חָלָק אֲפִלּוּ מַשֶּׁהוּ בֵּין הָאוֹת לְהַנֶּקֶב שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ, וְהָאוֹת צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת כֻּלָּהּ מֻקֶּפֶת גְּוִיל מִכָּל רוּחוֹתֶיהָ – מִכָּל מָקוֹם הִיא חֲשׁוּבָה מֻקֶּפֶת גְּוִיל גַּם בִּמְקוֹם הַנֶּקֶב, עַל יְדֵי קְלָף הֶחָלָק שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ מִצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב.90

וְכֵן91 אִם הַנֶּקֶב הוּא בְּמִקְצָת עֳבִי הָאוֹת שֶׁכְּלַפֵּי חוּץ,קפו וּמִקְצָת עָבְיָהּ שֶׁכְּלַפֵּי תּוֹכָהּ נִשְׁאָר קַיָּם – הֲרֵי הִיא כְּשֵׁרָה עַל יְדֵי מִקְצָת עֳבִי זֶה שֶׁכְּלַפֵּי תּוֹכָהּ, שֶׁהוּא חָשׁוּב מֻקָּף גְּוִיל עַל יְדֵי קְלָף הֶחָלָק שֶׁמִּצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב.

(וְכֵן אִם הַנֶּקֶב הוּא מַפְסִיק כָּל עָבְיָהּ, אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר בְּאָרְכָּהּ שֶׁעַד הַנֶּקֶב כְּשִׁעוּר הֶכְשֵׁרוֹ – הֲרֵי הִיא מִתְכַּשֶּׁרֶת עַל יְדֵי שִׁעוּר זֶה, שֶׁהוּא חָשׁוּב מֻקָּף גְּוִיל גַּם בְּתַחְתִּיּוּתוֹ עַל יְדֵי הַקְּלָף הֶחָלָק שֶׁלְּמַטָּה מֵהַנֶּקֶב (וְאִם נִשְׁתַּיֵּר מֵאֹרֶךְ [אוֹת] זוּ גַּם לְמַטָּה מֵהַנֶּקֶב – אֵינָהּ נִפְסֶלֶת בְּכָךְ, וּמִתְכַּשֶּׁרֶת הִיא עַל יְדֵי קְלָף הֶחָלָק שֶׁבְּתַחְתִּיּוּתוֹ, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁמַּה שֶּׁמִּן הַנֶּקֶב עַד קְלָף הֶחָלָק אֵינוֹ אוֹת אַחֶרֶת – אֵינוֹ חָשׁוּב הֶפְסֵק בֵּין הָאוֹת לַגְּוִיל הַמַּקִּיפָהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב אֵינוֹ חָשׁוּב הֶפְסֵק).קפז אֲבָל אִם לֹא נִשְׁתַּיֵּר קְלָף חָלָק כְּלָל לְמַטָּה מֵהַנֶּקֶב – פְּסוּלָה).

וּלְפִי סְבָרָא זוֹ, אֵין (ד) חִלּוּק בֵּין נֶקֶב שֶׁלִּפְנֵי הַכְּתִיבָה בֵּין נֶקֶב שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַכְּתִיבָה,קפח,92 שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁקְּלָף הֶחָלָק שֶׁמִּצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב מִצְטָרֵף לָאוֹת, לִהְיוֹתָהּ נֶחְשֶׁבֶת מֻקֶּפֶת גְּוִיל גַּם בִּמְקוֹם הַנֶּקֶב, אִם כֵּן אַף אִם (ה) הָיָה הַנֶּקֶב קֹדֶם הַכְּתִיבָה – אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵל יוֹתֵר מִלְּאַחַר כְּתִיבָהקפט (כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּיֵּר שִׁעוּר הֶכְשֵׁר אוֹת שָׁלֵם לְגַמְרֵי בְּלִי שׁוּם נֶקֶב93).

וְהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה.קצ וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן יֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לַסְּבָרָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה,קצא לְהַחְמִיר כְּשֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּיֵּר קְלָף חָלָק כְּלָל מִצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב, בֵּין שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב הוּא חוּץ לָאוֹת סָמוּךְ לָהּ מַמָּשׁ, בֵּין שֶׁהוּא בְּתוֹכָהּ וּמְמַלֵּא כָּל חֲלָלָהּ.94

(ו) וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםקצב שֶׁאַף לְפִי סְבָרָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה – אֵין הָאוֹת צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת מֻקָּף גְּוִיל גַּם אַחַר הַכְּתִיבָה אֶלָּא מִבַּחוּץ, אֲבָל לֹא מִבִּפְנִים, וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הַנֶּקֶב שֶׁבְּתוֹכָהּ מְמַלֵּא כָּל חֲלָלָהּ – כְּשֵׁרָה.95 וְנָכוֹן לְהַחְמִיר:קצג

Fig. 19
Fig. 19

Fig. 20
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Fig. 21
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Fig. 22
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Fig. 23
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Fig. 24
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Fig. 25
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Fig. 26
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Fig. 28
Fig. 28

20 If one of the straight letters that have only one leg, such as a vav or a zayin or a final nun, is severed, the fact that the remnant is as big as a small letter, i.e., a yud, does not [necessarily] render it valid, as is true with regard to the letter hei and the like.96 For when all that remains of a vav is a part the size of a yud, it is no longer a vav. The same applies with regard to the other straight letters.97

Instead, the criterion for their validity is how they are read by a young child who is neither bright nor slow. If such a child can read the letters properly, they are valid; if not, they are invalid.98

We cannot rely on a bright child who understands the meaning of the words, because his reading of the severed letter is guided by how it will fit the context. If, however, the child is not bright enough to understand the meaning but is bright enough to recognize the letters well, he may be relied upon. This is the intent of the Talmudic phrase, “nor slow.”

From this explanation you may deduce that there is no need to cover the letters [adjacent to the letter in question], as is customary. For were this to be done, how could even a bright child who understands the meaning of the words know how to read this letter correctly? There would be no way for him to know its context and meaning.

Nevertheless, if a letter was severed by a hole and part of it remains below the hole, the remnant below the hole must be covered. For [in his mind] the child will join it with the [main] part above the hole and read the letter properly. And in truth, since the hole separates [the two parts of the letter], they are not considered as being joined together.

The above laws also apply if a scratch crosses the width of [one of the strokes of] a letter from one side to the other. If, however, the scratch does not pass from side to side, even if it existed at the time of writing, it does not disqualify [the letter], for it is not completely divided in two. A distinction must be drawn between [such a scratch] and [the above case99 of] a hole located in the midst of the width [of one of the strokes of a letter]. If such a hole existed at the time of writing, it disqualifies the letter, for the part of the letter’s width [that remains] at either side of the hole is not surrounded by [blank] parchment. In the present case, by contrast, the scratch is blank parchment. Thus it allows the part of the letter’s width that renders the letter valid to be considered as being “surrounded by [blank] parchment.” For [the Sages] did not prescribe any minimum width for the [component strokes of the] letters, and they may be made very thin, even as an initial and preferred option.100

[Different rules apply] if the scratch crossed [the width of one of the strokes of a letter] from one side to the other, and existed at the time of writing. Some authorities maintain that the validity of such a letter cannot be determined by a young child’s reading, even if the lower part is covered [see fig. 29], for [the Sages] applied this criterion only with regard to a letter that was written with the required length at the outset, and only later was shortened by a hole or a scratch.

Other authorities maintain that if a young child reads a letter correctly, it is valid even if it was short at the outset. Therefore, [we may rely on a young child’s reading] if a scribe writes one of the straight letters, [continues to write other letters,] and then is unsure whether the length [of the straight letter] meets the minimum measure required by law. [If it was not long enough,] he would not be able to correct [the letter], because then the letters would not be written in the correct order, as will be explained.101 [In such a case, the scribe] may show [the letter] to a young child who is neither bright nor slow and may rely on him. (The halachah rules according to the latter approach and it is the one that is commonly followed.)

כ וְאִם נִפְסְקָה אַחַת מֵאוֹתִיּוֹת הַפְּשׁוּטוֹת שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם אֶלָּא יָרֵךְ אַחַת,קצד כְּגוֹן: וָא"ו אוֹ זַיִ"ן אוֹ נוּ"ן פְּשׁוּטָה, וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן – אֵין שִׁעוּר הֶכְשֵׁרָן כִּמְלֹא אוֹת קְטַנָּה שֶׁהִיא יוּ"ד, כְּמוֹ בְּרֶגֶל הַהֵ"א וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ,96 שֶׁהֲרֵי וָא"ו שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּיֵּר מִמֶּנָּה אֶלָּא כִּמְלֹא יוּ"ד – אֵין זֶה וָא"ו כְּלָל, וְכֵן בִּשְׁאָר אוֹתִיּוֹת הַפְּשׁוּטוֹת.97 אֶלָּא הֶכְשֵׁרָן תָּלוּי בִּקְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ, שֶׁאִם הַתִּינוֹק יוֹדֵעַ לִקְרוֹתָן כְּהִלְכָתָן – כְּשֵׁרוֹת, וְאִם לָאו – פְּסוּלוֹת.קצה,98

אֲבָל תִּינוֹק חָכָם שֶׁמֵּבִין הָעִנְיָןקצו דְּהַיְנוּ פֵּרוּשׁ הַמִּלּוֹת, הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר הָאוֹת הַנִּפְסֶקֶת מִתּוֹךְ הֲבָנָתוֹ שֶׁמִּתְפָּרֵשׁ יָפֶה לְפִי הָעִנְיָן, וְאֵין סוֹמְכִין עָלָיו. אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ חָכָם כָּל־כָּךְ לְהָבִין הָעִנְיָן, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא חָכָם בְּהַכָּרַת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת הֵיטֵבקצז – סוֹמְכִין עָלָיו, וְזֶה לֹא טִפֵּשׁ שֶׁאָמְרוּ.קצח

וּמִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵדקצט שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לְכַסּוֹת מִלְּפָנָיו שְׁאָר הָאוֹתִיּוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁנּוֹהֲגִין, שֶׁאִם כֵּן אַף הֶחָכָם שֶׁמֵּבִין הָעִנְיָן שֶׁקּוֹרֵא, מֵהֵיכָן יָבִין לִקְרוֹת אוֹת זוֹ כְּהִלְכָתָהּ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ עִנְיָנָהּ וּפֵרוּשָׁהּ.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אוֹת שֶׁנִּפְסְקָה בְּנֶקֶב וְנִשְׁתַּיֵּר מִמֶּנָּה גַּם לְמַטָּה מֵהַנֶּקֶבר – צָרִיךְ לְכַסּוֹת מִלְּפָנָיו מַה שֶּׁלְּמַטָּה מֵהַנֶּקֶב, לְפִי שֶׁהוּא יְצָרְפֶנָּה עִם מַה שֶּׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַנֶּקֶב וְיִקְרָא הָאוֹת כְּהִלְכָתָהּ, וּבֶאֱמֶת אֵינָן מִצְטָרְפִין, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהַנֶּקֶב מַפְסִיק בֵּינֵיהֶם.

וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם מַפְסִיק בֵּינֵיהֶם שְׂרִיטָה הָעוֹבֶרֶת בָּעֳבִי הָאוֹת מֵעֵבֶר לְעֵבֶר. אֲבָל אִם אֵינָהּ עוֹבֶרֶת מֵעֵבֶר לְעֵבֶר,רא אֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה כֵּן בִּשְׁעַת הַכְּתִיבָה – אֵינָהּ פּוֹסֶלֶת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין הָאוֹת חֲלוּקָה לִשְׁתַּיִם לְגַמְרֵי. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לְנֶקֶב שֶׁבְּאֶמְצַע הָעֹבִי99 שֶׁפּוֹסֵל אִם הָיָה בִּשְׁעַת הַכְּתִיבָה,רב לְפִי שֶׁמִּקְצָת עֳבִי הָאוֹת שֶׁמִּצַּד זֶה שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב אֵינוֹ מֻקָּף גְּוִיל בִּמְקוֹם הַנֶּקֶב, וְכֵן מִקְצָת עֹבִי שֶׁמִּצַּד זֶה שֶׁל הַנֶּקֶב, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּשְׂרִיטָה שֶׁהִיא קְלָף חָלָק, וַחֲשׁוּבָה הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל לְמִקְצָת הָעֹבִי שֶׁהָאוֹת מִתְכַּשֶּׁרֶת בּוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא נָתְנוּ שִׁעוּר לָעֳבִי הָאוֹתִיּוֹת, וְיָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹתָן דַּקּוֹת מְאֹד אֲפִלּוּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה.רג,100

וְאִם הַשְּׂרִיטָה עוֹבֶרֶת מֵעֵבֶר לְעֵבֶר וְהָיְתָה כֵּן בְּעֵת הַכְּתִיבָה – יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםרד שֶׁאֵין קְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק מוֹעֶלֶת בָּהּ, אֲפִלּוּ אִם יְכַסּוּ מִלְּפָנָיו מַה שֶּׁלְּמַטָּה, שֶׁלֹּא הִכְשִׁירוּ בִּקְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק אֶלָּא בְּאוֹת שֶׁנִּכְתְּבָה מִתְּחִלָּה אֲרֻכָּה כָּרָאוּי וְאַחַר־כָּךְ נִתְקַצְּרָה עַל יְדֵי הַנֶּקֶב אוֹ עַל יְדֵי שְׂרִיטָה.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםרה שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה קְצָרָה מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ וְהַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָהּ כְּהִלְכָתָהּ – כְּשֵׁרָה, וְלָכֵן אִם אֵרַע שֶׁכָּתַב הַסּוֹפֵר אֵיזוֹ אוֹת מֵאוֹתִיּוֹת הַפְּשׁוּטוֹת, וּמִסְתַּפֵּק בְּשִׁעוּר אָרְכָּהּ אִם הִיא אֲרֻכָּה כְּהִלְכָתָהּ, וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהַגִּיהַּ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר101 – מַרְאֶה לְתִינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ וְסוֹמֵךְ עָלָיו (וְכֵן עִקָּר.רו וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין):

Fig. 29: Covering the part of a straight letter that was severed by a scratch.
Fig. 29: Covering the part of a straight letter that was severed by a scratch.

21 A letter may be deemed valid when read by a young child only when there is a doubt whether the length of a letter meets the minimum requirements or whether the width of a letter meets the minimum requirements. For example, if a dalet was written small, like a yud, and a young child reads it as a dalet, it is valid.

If, however, we know that a letter was written incorrectly, then even if a young child reads it correctly this is of no consequence. If, for example, some of the yud-[shaped heads] of the letters ayin and shin and alef,102 or the legs of the letter taf,103 are not touching the bodies of their respective letters, such letters are invalid even if a young child reads them correctly. For of what consequence is the child’s reading when we see with our own eyes that the letter was not written validly?

Nevertheless, [the fact that] the child reads these letters [correctly] can be of significance, for the scribe may correct them even after having written [other letters] afterwards. This will not be considered as if the letters were written in incorrect sequence, as will be explained.104

כא אֵין מַכְשִׁירִין עַל יְדֵי קְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁאָנוּ מְסֻפָּקִים אִם אֹרֶךְ הָאוֹת הוּא כַּשִּׁעוּר,רז אוֹ אִם רֹחַב הָאוֹת הוּא כַּשִּׁעוּר, כְּגוֹן ד שֶׁנִּכְתְּבָה קְטַנָּה כְּעֵין יוּ"ד,רח שֶׁאִם הַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָהּ ד' – כְּשֵׁרָה.

אֲבָל אִם יָדוּעַ לָנוּ שֶׁאֵין הָאוֹת כְּהִלְכָתָהּ,רט אֲפִלּוּ הַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָהּ כְּהִלְכָתָהּ – אֵין זֶה מוֹעִיל כְּלוּם, כְּגוֹן שֶׁמִּקְצָת יוּ"דִין שֶׁל הָעַיִנִי"ן וְהַשִּׁי"נִין וְהָאַלְ"פִין,102 אוֹ רַגְלֵי הַתֲּוִי"ן,103 אֵינָן נוֹגְעִין בְּגוּף הָאוֹת – פְּסוּלוֹת,רי אַף שֶׁהַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָן כְּהִלְכָתָן, כִּי מַה תּוֹעִיל קְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק וְעֵינֵינוּ רוֹאוֹת שֶׁאֵין הָאוֹת כְּהִלְכָתָהּ.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם מוֹעֶלֶת קְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ, לְעִנְיָן שֶׁיּוּכַל לְתַקְּנָן אַף אִם כָּתַב אַחֲרֵיהֶן,ריא וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:ריב,103

22 [The following rules apply] if a drop of ink fell in the center of a letter, so that the letter is no longer recognizable as such (even though its inner edge remains surrounded by [blank] parchment); for example, [a drop of ink] fell in the center of a dalet and made it appear to be a hei [see fig. 31], or into a beis and made it appear to be a pei [see fig. 32], or made it no longer be deemed a beis. Each of these letters, and [likewise] any other letter, is invalid [if a drop of ink] falls in the center of it, changing its appearance to the extent that it would no longer be referred to by its name,105 or if the ink detracts somewhat from [the shape of] the letter — even if it merely detracts from a point of the letter, when the lack of that point disqualifies the letter.106 [Similarly,] if a drop of ink appears as [part of] the body of a letter, then even if the letter [remains] clearly recognizable as such, it is invalid.

The problem cannot be corrected by scraping away the [dried] drop of ink so that the letter thereby acquires its correct shape, for this would be considered chak tochos,107 i.e., engraving the interior of the letter so that it is left with its statutory shape by virtue of the ink that was not scraped away. And [with regard to mezuzos — and, by association, this also applies to tefillin] the Torah states, “You shall write them,” not “You shall engrave them.” Our Sages108 interpret this phrase as referring to [and excluding] chak tochos.

The same laws apply if one erases ink while it is still wet, and in this way the letter acquires its correct shape. This [too] is considered as chak tochos, for there is no difference between engraving, scraping, and erasing. None [of these] constitutes writing — and the Torah states, “You shall write them.”

כב וְאִם נָפְלָה טִפַּת דְּיוֹ לְתוֹךְ הָאוֹת וְאֵינָהּ נִכֶּרֶת הָאוֹתריג (אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן הִיא מֻקֶּפֶת גְּוִיל בְּתוֹכָהּ), כְּגוֹן שֶׁנָּפְלָה לְתוֹךְ ד' וְנִרְאֵית כְּהֵ"א, אוֹ שֶׁנָּפְלָה לְתוֹךְ ב' וְנִרְאֵית כְּפֵ"א, אוֹ שֶׁאֵין שֵׁם ב' עָלֶיהָ, אוֹ שֶׁנָּפְלָה לְתוֹךְ אוֹת אַחֶרֶת וְאֵין שְׁמָהּ עָלֶיהָ,105 אוֹ שֶׁמְּחַסֶּרֶת קְצָת מִן הָאוֹת,ריד אֲפִלּוּ אֵינָהּ מְחַסֶּרֶת מִמֶּנָּה אֶלָּא קוֹצָהּ וְהוּא קוֹץ שֶׁהָאוֹת נִפְסֶלֶת בְּחֶסְרוֹנוֹ,106 אוֹ שֶׁנִּרְאֵית הַטִּפָּה כְּאִלּוּ הוּא גּוּפָהּ שֶׁל אוֹת, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָאוֹת נִכֶּרֶת הֵיטֵב – פְּסוּלָה.

וְאֵין לָהּ תַּקָּנָה לִגְרֹר הַטִּפַּת דְּיוֹ וְעַל־יְדֵי־כָּךְ תִּהְיֶה הָאוֹת כְּתִקּוּנָהּ,רטו מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת,107 דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁחוֹקֵק הַתּוֹךְ שֶׁל אוֹת,רטז וּמִמֵּילָא נִשְׁאָר צוּרַת אוֹת בְּמַה שֶּׁאֵינוֹ נִגְרָר, וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה:ריז "וּכְתַבְתָּם" וְלֹא וַחֲקַקְתָּם,ריח וּפֵרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִיםריט,108 שֶׁבְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת הַכָּתוּב מְדַבֵּר.

וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם מוֹחֵק הַדְּיוֹ בְּעוֹדוֹ לַח וְעַל־יְדֵי־כָּךְ נַעֲשֵׂית הָאוֹת כְּתִקְנָהּרכ – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת, שֶׁאֵין חִלּוּק בֵּין חֲקִיקָה וּגְרִירָה לִמְחִיקָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ כְּתִיבָה, וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה "וּכְתַבְתָּם":

Fig. 30
Fig. 30

Fig. 31
Fig. 31

Fig. 32
Fig. 32

Fig. 33
Fig. 33

23 Similarly, if one erred and wrote a dalet instead of a resh, or a beis instead of a chaf, [the letter] cannot be corrected by scraping away or erasing the protrusion, because this is considered chak tochos. One may, however, add ink to make the letter [thicker and] rounded like a resh or a chaf.

This may be done only if one has not yet written anything else after this letter. Otherwise, [the passage] is invalid because it was not written in the proper order, as will be explained.109

Similarly, if one wrote a resh instead of a dalet, or a chaf instead of a beis, [the letter] may [be corrected by] adding ink and making [the corner] square as [required by] law, provided one has not written [another letter] afterwards. For whenever a correction is made by writing and not by scraping away or erasing, it is valid. One may not, however, scrape away [part of] the chaf so that it will appear as a beis, nor [scrape away part of] a resh to make it appear as a dalet.

כג וְכֵן אִם טָעָה וְכָתַב ד' בִּמְקוֹם רֵי"שׁ, אוֹ ב' בִּמְקוֹם כ' – אֵין תַּקָּנָה לִגְרֹר אוֹ לִמְחֹק הַתָּג,רכא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת.

אֲבָל יָכוֹל לְהוֹסִיף עָלָיו דְּיוֹ וְלַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ עָגֹל כְּרֵי"שׁ אוֹ כְּכָ"ף,רכב וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא כָּתַב עֲדַיִן כְּלוּם אַחַר אוֹת זוֹ,רכג שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן פָּסוּל מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר.רכד,109 וְכֵן אִם כָּתַב רֵי"שׁ בִּמְקוֹם ד' אוֹ כ' בִּמְקוֹם ב' – יָכוֹל לְהוֹסִיף דְּיוֹ וְלַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ מְרֻבַּעַת כְּהִלְכָתָהּרכה אִם לֹא כָּתַב אַחֲרֶיהָ, שֶׁכָּל שֶׁמְּתַקֵּן עַל יְדֵי כְּתִיבָה וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי גְּרִירָה אוֹ מְחִיקָה – כָּשֵׁר.

אֲבָל אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִגְרֹר הַכָּ"ף לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ כְּמוֹ בֵּי"ת, אוֹ הָרֵי"שׁ לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ כְּדָלֶי"ת:רכו

24 The above applies to scraping away ink. If, however, wax falls on the letters, one may scrape it away, and [the letter is] valid. The question of whether it is permitted to scrape wax from a Torah scroll on Shabbos will be explained in sec. 340[:4].

כד וְכָל זֶה בִּגְרִירַת דְּיוֹ, אֲבָל אִם נָטַף שַׁעֲוָה עַל הָאוֹתִיּוֹת – גּוֹרְרָהּ וְכָשֵׁר.רכז וְאִם מֻתָּר לְגָרְרָהּ מִסֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה בְּשַׁבָּת – יִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן שמ:רכח

25 If the gap in an open mem110 becomes closed, it may not be corrected by [merely] scraping away the connecting [ink] and thereby opening the gap, for this is considered as chak tochos.

How should it be corrected? [The scribe] should scrape away the entire “nose,” [i.e., the left side of the letter, as in fig. 34], leaving [what resembles] a curved nun,111 and then he should [re]write what he had scraped away. This is not considered chak tochos, even though he did not scrape away and rewrite the nun [as well]. [The rationale is] that the shape of the nun was originally written validly. It was merely that the letter became disqualified when the “nose” touched it. It is therefore sufficient to scrape away the “nose” and write it anew.

If, however, a resh is written so that it resembles a dalet, one should be stringent and [follow the view that] maintains that it is not sufficient to scrape away the leg alone or the upper line112 alone, and rewrite it. [The rationale is that since the problem is in the corner,] both the upper line and the leg were written invalidly. For it is the practice of scribes to first write the upper line [of a dalet] together with the protrusion at its [right] extremity,113 and then [to add] the foot below it. Thus the upper line was also written invalidly, because [the scribe] added the protrusion at its [right] end.114 Needless to say, this applies to the leg, which was written after the protrusion was formed.115 Both [parts of the letter] must therefore be scraped away.

It could be argued that when one scrapes away either of [the two parts], what remains does not have the shape of a letter at all; hence, when one rewrites the part that was scraped away, this is as if one were writing the entire letter anew. Nevertheless, one should not follow the lenient view and leave any vestige of the letter at all, for the whole letter was formed invalidly. True, the upper line was written validly and it is only the squared corner behind it that is invalid, but since it was all written in one stroke, it is considered as a single unit [and disqualified in its entirety].

A similar case: The leg of a final chaf116 must be twice as long as its upper line, so that it not resemble a resh. If [a scribe] made its upper line as long as its leg, then if he cannot extend the leg to twice the length of the upper line,117 the upper line must be completely erased because it was entirely written in one stroke. One may [correct the letter by] erasing [this part], even in the word Elokecha,118 provided one is careful not to erase the leg.

This does not apply to the “nose” of the mem, for it is not written in one stroke together with the part [to the right] that resembles a nun. Similarly, any letter that is written in two strokes, such as a gimmel and the like, is governed by the same laws as a mem.

כה מֶ"ם פְּתוּחָה שֶׁנִּדְבְּקָה פְּתִיחָתָהּ110 וְנִסְתְּמָהרכט – אֵין מוֹעִיל לִגְרֹר הַדֶּבֶק וּלְפָתְחָהּ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת. וּמַה תַּקָּנָתָהּ?רל לִגְרֹר כָּל הַחַרְטוֹם וְתִשָּׁאֵר בְּצוּרַת נוּ"ן כְּפוּפָה,111 וְאַחַר־כָּךְ יִכְתֹּב מַה שֶּׁגָּרַר, וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם חַק תּוֹכוֹת, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא גָּרַר צוּרַת הַנּוּ"ן וְחָזַר וּכְתָבוֹ מֵחָדָשׁ, לְפִי שֶׁצּוּרַת הַנּוּ"ן נַעֲשָׂה מִתְּחִלָּה בְּהֶכְשֵׁר,רלא אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּפְסְלָה הָאוֹת בִּנְגִיעַת הַחַרְטוֹם, לָכֵן דַּי כְּשֶׁגּוֹרֵר הַחַרְטוֹם וְחוֹזֵר וְכוֹתֵב מֵחָדָשׁ.

אֲבָל רֵי"שׁ שֶׁכְּתָבָהּ כְּמִין ד'רלב – יֵשׁ לְהַחְמִיר וְלוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא דַּי כְּשֶׁיִּגְרֹר הַיָּרֵךְ לְבַד אוֹ הַגָּג לְבַד112 וְיַחֲזֹר וְיִכְתְּבֶנּוּ מֵחָדָשׁ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבֵּין הַגָּג וּבֵין הַיָּרֵךְ נַעֲשָׂה בִּפְסוּל, שֶׁכֵּן דֶּרֶךְ הַסּוֹפְרִים שֶׁכּוֹתְבִין (ז) תְּחִלָּה הַגָּג עִם הַתָּג שֶׁמֵּאֲחוֹרָיו113 וְאַחַר־כָּךְ הַיָּרֵךְ לְמַטָּה,רלג וְנִמְצָא שֶׁגַּם הַגָּג נַעֲשָׂה בִּפְסוּל שֶׁעָשָׂה לוֹ תָּג מֵאֲחוֹרָיו,114 וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר הַיָּרֵךְ שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה אַחַר עֲשִׂיַּת הַתָּג,115 וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר שְׁנֵיהֶם.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁאַף כְּשֶׁגּוֹרֵר אֶחָד מֵהֶם כֵּיוָן שֶׁבְּמַה שֶּׁנִּשְׁאַר אֵין בּוֹ צוּרַת אוֹת כְּלָל, אִם כֵּן כְּשֶׁחוֹזֵר וְכוֹתֵב מַה שֶּׁגָּרַר – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּכוֹתֵב הָאוֹת מִתְּחִלָּתָהּ,רלד אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן אֵין לְהָקֵל לְשַׁיֵּר מְאוּמָה מִן הָאוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁכָּוּלָהּ נַעֲשָׂה בִּפְסוּל, שֶׁאַף שֶׁהַגָּג כֻּלָּהּ נַעֲשָׂה בְּהֶכְשֵׁר רַק הָרִבּוּעַ שֶׁמֵּאַחֲרָיו בִּלְבַד הוּא הַפָּסוּל, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁהַכֹּל נַעֲשָׂה בִּכְתִיבָה אַחַת – הֲרֵי הַכֹּל אֶחָד.רלה

וְכֵן כַּ"ף פְּשׁוּטָהרלו,116 שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת רַגְלָהּ אֲרֻכָּה כִּפְלַיִם כְּגַגָּהּ,רלז שֶׁלֹּא תִּדְמֶה לְר', וְעָשָׂה לָהּ גַּג רָחָב כְּאֹרֶךְ רַגְלָהּ, אִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִמְשֹׁךְ רַגְלָהּ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה כִּפְלַיִם כְּגַגָּהּ117 – צָרִיךְ לִמְחֹק כָּל הַגָּג,רלח הוֹאִיל וְכֻלָּהּ נַעֲשֵׂית בִּכְתִיבָה אַחַת. וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּמִלַּת "אֱלֹהֶיךָ"118 יָכוֹל לִמְחֹק,רלט רַק שֶׁיִּזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יִמְחֹק הָרֶגֶל.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּחַרְטוֹם שֶׁל מֶ"ם, שֶׁאֵינוֹ נַעֲשֶׂה בִּכְתִיבָה אַחַת עִם צוּרוֹת הַנּוּ"ן. וְהוּא הַדִּין כָּל אוֹת שֶׁנִּכְתָּב בִּשְׁתֵּי כְּתִיבוֹת,רמ כְּגוֹן הַג' וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ – דִּינָהּ כְּמֶ"ם:

Fig. 34: Correcting the closed gap of an open mem.
Fig. 34: Correcting the closed gap of an open mem.

26 Nevertheless, any part of such a letter that was written after it was disqualified must be scraped away and written anew, even though it was not written in the same stroke as the disqualifying factor.

To cite an example: A yud at the upper [right] of the alef which touches the [diagonal] shaft below it more than necessary [see fig. 35]. As explained in sec. 36, it is only the protrusion [that descends from] the right [of the upper yud] — and not the body [of the yud] — that should touch [the shaft]. If a scribe wrote the shaft of the alef so close [to the upper yud] that it touches the body of the yud [and then wrote the lower yud], he must scrape away and rewrite the entire shaft and the yud below it.

If, however, the point at the [lower] left [of the upper yud], but not the body of the yud itself, touches the shaft [of the alef], the letter is valid. Even if that point were lacking, this letter would still be called a yud; therefore, the fact that it is touching [the shaft] does not disqualify [the letter].

If the body of the lower yud [of the alef] is touching the shaft there is no need to scrape away the shaft, but only the lower yud itself, for this is what was written invalidly.119 The same principle applies with regard to the [left] leg of the letter taf.

כו וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, כָּל מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב בְּאוֹתוֹ אוֹת אַחַר שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בָּהּ הַפְּסוּל – צָרִיךְ לְגָרְרוֹ וּלְכָתְבוֹ מֵחָדָשׁ,רמא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִכְתַּב בִּכְתִיבָה אַחַת עִם הַפְּסוּל, כְּגוֹן יוּ"ד הָעֶלְיוֹנָה שֶׁל הָא' שֶׁהִיא נוֹגַעַת בַּגָּג שֶׁתַּחְתֶּיהָ יוֹתֵר מִמַּה שֶּׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת נוֹגַעַת,רמב שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת נוֹגַעַת אֶלָּא בְּעָקְצָהּ הַיְמִינִירמג וְלֹא בְּעַצְמָהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ל"ו,רמד וְהוּא כָּתַב הַגָּג סָמוּךְ מְאֹד עַד שֶׁנָּגַע בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁל יוּ"ד – צָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר כָּל הַגָּג וְהַיוּ"ד שֶׁתַּחְתֶּיהָ וּלְכָתְבָהּ מֵחָדָשׁ.

אֲבָל אִם עָקְצָהּ הַשְּׂמָאלִי נוֹגֵעַ בַּגָּג וְלֹא עַצְמָהּ שֶׁל יוּ"ד – כָּשֵׁר,רמה שֶׁאַף בְּלֹא עֹקֶץ זֶה שֵׁם יוּ"ד עָלֶיהָ – אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵל בִּנְגִיעָתוֹ.

(ח) וְאִם יוּ"ד הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה נוֹגַעַת בְּעַצְמָהּ לַגָּגרמו – אֵין צָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר הַגָּג אֶלָּא יוּ"ד הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה בִּלְבַד שֶׁנַּעֲשֵׂית בִּפְסוּל.119 וְהוּא הַדִּין בְּרֶגֶל הַתָּי"ו:רמז

Fig. 35
Fig. 35

27 Similar laws apply if any of the yud-[shaped components] of a shin, an ayin, a tzaddik120 or a pei touch the actual letter with their bodies rather than with their protrusions. One must scrape away every part of the letter that was written after the disqualifying factor came into being. The fact that a young child reads the letter correctly is of no avail since we can see for ourselves that the letter is written incorrectly.121

Similarly, if the [left] leg of a hei or a kuf touches the upper line of its respective letter, even as slightly as a hairsbreadth, the letter is invalid, even if a young child who is not bright reads it correctly. [See fig. 36.] Moreover, [these letters] cannot be corrected by separating [the parts that touch], because this is considered as chak tochos. Nevertheless, there is no need to scrape away the entire letter; it is sufficient to scrape away the leg that was written invalidly and write it afresh. The upper line and the right leg that were written validly at the outset do not have to be scraped away.

If, however, one initially wrote a resh, and then erred and made a protrusion [at its upper right extremity] so that it appeared like a dalet, one cannot correct it merely by scraping away the protrusion. By doing so one is not working on the letter itself; rather, the letter is transformed into a resh merely by his scraping; hence this is considered as chak tochos. This is not comparable to [the above-mentioned correction of] the hei and the kuf, where action is taken on the letter itself. In those cases, since one scrapes away the leg and writes it afresh, this is considered as if he had written the entire letter, for without this leg the letter would not be called a hei or a kuf.

Based on the above, there is also room for [some] leniency [in the instance described above, in which] one wrote a resh [correctly] at the outset,122 but erred and added a protrusion that made it appear as a dalet. [It is sufficient] to scrape away the protrusion as well as the upper line alone, or [the protrusion] as well as the leg alone. In this way, one will be taking action on the body of the letter. There is no need to scrape away the remainder [of the letter], since it was originally written validly. Nevertheless, if a [scribe] is stringent and scrapes away the entire letter, may blessings light upon him.

כז וְכֵן הַדִּין בְּיוּדֵ"י הַשִּׁי"ן וְהָעַיִ"ן וְהַצָּדִ"י120 וְהַפֵּ"א שֶׁנָּגְעוּ בְּגוּף הָאוֹת בְּעַצְמָן וְלֹא בְּעֻקְצָן בִּלְבַדרמח – שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִגְרֹר כָּל מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב בְּאוֹתוֹ אוֹת אַחַר שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בָּהּ הַפְּסוּל. וְאֵין קְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹק מוֹעֶלֶת בָּזֶה כְּלָל,רמט כֵּיוָן שֶׁעֵינֵינוּ רוֹאוֹת שֶׁאֵין הָאוֹת כְּתִקּוּנָהּ.121 וְכֵן אִם נָגְעוּ רַגְלֵי הַהֵ"א וְהַקּוּ"ף בַּגָּגרנ אֲפִלּוּ נְגִיעָה דַּקָּה כְּחוּט הַשַּׂעֲרָה,רנא וְתִינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָכָם קוֹרְאָן כְּהִלְכָתָן – פְּסוּלוֹת. וְאֵין תַּקָּנָה לְהַפְרִידָן, מִשּׁוּם חַק תּוֹכוֹת.רנב

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אֵין צָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר כָּל הָאוֹת,רנג אֶלָּא דַּי שֶׁיִּגְרֹר הָרֶגֶל שֶׁנַּעֲשֵׂית בִּפְסוּל, וְיַחֲזֹר וְיִכְתְּבֶנָּה, אֲבָל הַגָּג וְיָרֵךְ יְמִינִי שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה מִתְּחִלָּה בְּהֶכְשֵׁר – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְגָרְרָן.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם כָּתַב מִתְּחִלָּה רֵי"שׁ וְאַחַר־כָּךְ טָעָה וְעָשָׂה לָהּ תָּג כְּעֵין דָּלֶי"תרנד – אֵין לָהּ תַּקָּנָה בִּגְרִירַת הַתָּג בִּלְבַד, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין עוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂה בְּגוּף הָאוֹת, אֶלָּא הִיא נַעֲשֵׂית רֵי"שׁ עַל יְדֵי גְּרִירָה בִּלְבַד – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת.רנה מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּהֵ"א וְקוּ"ף שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂה בְּגוּפָן, שֶׁגּוֹרֵר רַגְלָן וְחוֹזֵר וְכוֹתְבָן מֵחָדָשׁ, וַהֲרֵי זֶה כְּאִלּוּ כּוֹתֵב כָּל הָאוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין שֵׁם הֵ"א וְקוּ"ף עֲלֵיהֶן בְּלִי רֶגֶל זוֹ.

וּלְפִי זֶה גַּם בְּרֵי"שׁ122 שֶׁטָּעָה וְעָשָׂה לָהּ תָּג כְּעֵין דָּלֶי"תרנו – יֵשׁ לְהָקֵל בִּגְרִירַת הַתָּג עִם הַגָּג בִּלְבַד אוֹ עִם הַיָּרֵךְ בִּלְבַד, כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲשֶׂה בְּגוּף הָאוֹת, וְהַשְּׁאָר אֵין צָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בְּהֶכְשֵׁר מִתְּחִלָּה. וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן הַמַּחְמִיר לִגְרֹר אֶת כֻּלָּהּ – תָּבוֹא עָלָיו בְּרָכָה:רנז

Fig. 36: The letter hei invalidated by a hairsbreadth contact.
Fig. 36: The letter hei invalidated by a hairsbreadth contact.

28 The above applies when the disqualifying factor involves the shape of the letter itself. The disqualification of chak tochos does not, however, apply when letters are touching each other and attached together. Leniency is granted whether the letters became attached before the second letter was written completely and thus never acquired the shape of a valid letter or whether they became attached after [the scribe] finished writing it. One may separate them [by scraping away the point of connection] with a knife and then they are valid. [See fig. 37.] [The rationale is that] the disqualifying factor did not involve [the shape of] the letters themselves, but rather the fact that they are not surrounded by [blank] parchment.

Accordingly, if a letter had its shape changed by becoming attached to another letter, separation is not effective and it is governed by the laws applying to a mem which became closed;123 i.e., whatever part was written invalidly must be scraped away.124

Some authorities maintain that [stringency is also required when] the entire length of one letter is attached to another one; here, too, [merely] separating the letters is insufficient.

כח וְכָל זֶה כְּשֶׁהַפְּסוּל הוּא בְּצוּרַת גּוּף הָאוֹת,רנח אֲבָל אוֹתִיּוֹת הַנּוֹגְעוֹת וּדְבוּקוֹת זוֹ בְּזוֹ,רנט בֵּין שֶׁנִּדְבְּקָה קֹדֶם שֶׁנִּגְמְרָה הַשֵּׁנִיתרס שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה עָלָיו צוּרַת אוֹת בְּהֶכְשֵׁר מֵעוֹלָם, בֵּין שֶׁנִּדְבְּקָה אַחַר שֶׁנִּגְמְרָה – יָכוֹל לְהַפְרִידָן בְּסַכִּין וְכָשֵׁר.רסא וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם חַק תּוֹכוֹת,רסב כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה פְּסוּלָן בְּגוּפָןרסג אֶלָּא מֵחֲמַת חֶסְרוֹן הֶקֵּף גְּוִיל סָבִיב לָהֶן.

לְפִיכָךְ, אִם נִשְׁתַּנָּה צוּרַת הָאוֹת עַל יְדֵי דְּבִיקָתָהּ לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּרסד – אֵין פֵּרוּד מוֹעִיל בָּהּ, וְדִינָהּ כְּמֶ"ם שֶׁנִּסְתְּמָה,123 שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁנִּכְתַּב בִּפְסוּל – צָרִיךְ גְּרִירָה.124

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםרסה שֶׁהוּא הַדִּין אִם כָּל אֹרֶךְ הָאוֹת דְּבוּקָה לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּ – אֵין פֵּרוּד מוֹעִיל בָּהֶן:

Fig. 37: Scraping away a point of contact between two adjoining letters whose shape is not affected thereby.
Fig. 37: Scraping away a point of contact between two adjoining letters whose shape is not affected thereby.

29 Whenever [merely] separating the letters is not effective, overwriting a letter125 is [also] not effective; it does not remove the need to scrape away [the problematic letter] and rewrite it. As long as the initial script exists, any overwriting is of no consequence, for writing upon existing script is not considered writing at all. Only [writing] on blank parchment [is considered writing].

כט כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין פֵּרוּד מוֹעִיל – אֵין הַעֲבָרָה בְּקוּלְמוּס עַל הָאוֹת מוֹעֶלֶת,125 שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְגָרְרָהּ וּלְכָתְבָהּ מֵחָדָשׁ,רסו שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁכְּתָב הַתַּחְתּוֹן קַיָּם – אֵין הָעֶלְיוֹן מוֹעִיל כְּלוּם, שֶׁכְּתָב עַל גַּבֵּי כְּתָב – אֵינוֹ כְּתָב כְּלָל, אֶלָּא עַל גַּבֵּי הַקְּלָף:

30 Whenever [merely] separating the letters is not effective and one must scrape away the letter and rewrite it, or even a small part of it, this correction is of value only when one has not yet written anything after the error.

If, however, one wrote [other letters], he must erase everything he wrote afterwards and rewrite it all after correcting the error. If [after the error] he wrote one of [the Divine] names which may not be erased, this passage [cannot be corrected and] must be put aside.126

The reason: When one corrects the error by rewriting [the letter] after having written a later letter from the passage, the passage will not have been written in the proper sequence. [This is unacceptable] because the Torah states,127 “And these [words] shall be....” Implied is that they shall come into being [in the order which they appear in the Torah].128

When, however, letters are attached to each other, so that they may be corrected by separation, one may separate them even after the entire passage has been written [see fig. 37]. One is not considered thereby to be writing [the letters] in incorrect sequence, since one is not writing them at this time, but rather correcting them by scraping away [the ink] that attaches them. And scraping is not writing.

[This law can be extended and applied] even when a slight amount of writing is necessary to correct a letter. If its correct shape was already defined when it was [first] written, so that it would not at all be mistaken for another letter — if, for example, [one of] the yud-[shaped components] of a shin or an ayin or a tzaddik or an alef or a pei, or if the leg of the letter taf, was not touching the body of its respective letter, and a young child who is neither bright nor slow would read the letter properly — it may be corrected afterwards. [See fig. 30] This is not considered as writing the letters in incorrect sequence.

If, however, the [left] leg of a hei or a kuf touches the upper line of the letter even as slightly as a hairsbreadth [see fig. 36], [the above does not apply, even though] the correct shape of the letters was already established and a young child will read them properly. Nevertheless, since the entire leg must first be scraped away [to correct the letter], the letters will no longer have their correct shape, and when one [retraces his steps and] rewrites them, he is deemed to be writing in incorrect sequence.

Similarly, whenever other [parts of] a letter are touching in a manner in which [some parts of] the letter must be scraped away to the extent that it loses its required shape, it cannot be corrected afterwards. To cite examples: the upper or lower yud of an alef, or [the yud] of a shin or of an ayin or of a tzaddik or of a pei, or the leg of a taf, that are touching the body of their respective letters unduly, to the extent that the letters are invalidated. [See fig. 35] This law also applies to an open mem which became closed129 and other similar situations.

Moreover, even when there is no need to scrape anything away at all, but merely to [add] a minimal amount of writing, nevertheless, if a letter is divided in two and appears to be two letters — e.g., a tzaddik which is written as a yud and a [separate] nun [see fig. 38], or a shin which is written as an ayin and a [separate] yud — then even though a young child who is not bright will read it properly, it cannot be corrected afterwards. For we see with our own eyes that such letters have the shape of other letters. Thus when one corrects these letters after [having continued to write], it is as if one is writing anew, and [the passages are considered] as not having been written in the correct sequence.130

Likewise, when a ches is written as two zayinim,131 and as soon as one sees them it is clearly apparent that they are separate, [correcting the letter after having written further is considered as writing in incorrect sequence]. If, however, the separation at the “hump” above the zayinim is not apparent unless one looks at it [closely], the letters can be corrected afterwards. [This applies] even if a child reads them as [two] zayinim. With regard to this letter, we do not follow [the reading of a child], because a young child is not used to seeing a ches [written] in this manner with a “hump.”

(With regard to a tzaddik or a shin, by contrast, we follow the child’s reading, whether it results in a lenient ruling or a stringent one,132 unless we clearly see for ourselves that [these letters] are written as a yud and a [separate] nun, or an ayin and a [separate] yud. In such an instance, the child’s words are of no consequence.)

Similarly, if [a scribe] wrote a yud without a right leg, the letter may not be corrected after [having continued writing], even if a young child reads it properly, because without this leg it cannot be called a yud, and thus one would be writing in incorrect sequence. If, however, one did not make a protrusion on the [lower] left side of a yud, this can be corrected later, because even without this protrusion the letter is called a yud. [Adding this protrusion] is thus not considered as writing in incorrect sequence.

ל כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין פֵּרוּד מוֹעִיל וְצָרִיךְ לִגְרֹר וְלַחֲזֹר וְלִכְתֹּב אֲפִלּוּ מְעַטרסז – אֵין תַּקָּנָה זוֹ מוֹעֶלֶת אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא כָּתַב כְּלוּם אַחַר הַטָּעוּת, אֲבָל אִם כָּתַב – צָרִיךְ לִמְחֹק כָּל מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב אַחֲרָיו, וְלַחֲזֹר וְלִכְתֹּב הַכֹּל אַחַר שֶׁיְּתַקֵּן הַטָּעוּת.רסח וְאִם כָּתַב אֶחָד מִשֵּׁמוֹתרסט שֶׁאֵינָן נִמְחָקִיןער – צְרִיכָה פָּרָשָׁה זוֹ גְּנִיזָה.126

לְפִי שֶׁכְּשֶׁמְּתַקֵּן הַטָּעוּת עַל יְדֵי כְּתִיבָה לְאַחַר שֶׁכָּתַב אֵיזֶה אוֹת מֵהַפָּרָשָׁה אַחַר הַטָּעוּת – נִמְצָא פָּרָשָׁה זוֹ כְּתוּבָה שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָהּ,רעא וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה127 "וְהָיוּ"ערב – בַּהֲוָיָתָן יִהְיוּ.רעג,128

אֲבָל אוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁנִּדְבְּקוּ זוֹ בְּזוֹעדר בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁפֵּרוּד מוֹעִיל בָּהֶן – יָכוֹל לְהַפְרִידָן אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר כְּתִיבַת כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה,ערה וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן,רעו כֵּיוָן שֶׁעַתָּה אֵינוֹ כּוֹתְבָן, אֶלָּא מַכְשִׁירָן עַל יְדֵי גְּרֵירַת הַדְּבֵקוּת שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם, וּגְרִירָה אֵינָהּ כְּתִיבָה.רעז

וַאֲפִלּוּ אוֹת שֶׁמַּכְשִׁירוֹ עַל יְדֵי כְּתִיבָה מוּעֶטֶת, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם הָיְתָה צוּרָתָהּ עָלֶיהָ קֹדֶם לָכֵן בִּשְׁעַת כְּתִיבָתָה, וְלֹא הָיְתָה נִרְאֵית כְּלָל כְּאוֹת אַחֶרֶת, כְּגוֹן הַיּוּ"דִין שֶׁעַל הַשִּׁי"נִין וְעַל הָעַיִ"נִין וְהַצָּדִ"י וְשֶׁל הָאַלְ"פִין וּפֵאִי"ן וְרַגְלֵי הַתָּ"וִין שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ נוֹגְעִין בְּגוּף הָאוֹת,רעח וְתִינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ לֹא חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ קוֹרְאָן כְּהִלְכָתָן – יָכוֹל לְתַקְּנוֹ אַחַר כֵּן, וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן.

אֲבָל אִם רֶגֶל הַהֵ"א אוֹ הַקּוּ"ף נוֹגֵעַ בַּגָּג אֲפִלּוּ נְגִיעָה דַּקָּה כְּחוּט הַשַּׂעֲרָהרעט שֶׁצּוּרָתָן עֲלֵיהֶן, וְהַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָהּ כְּהִלְכָתָהּ, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִגְרֹר תְּחִלָּה כָּל הָרֶגֶל, אִם כֵּן שׁוּב אֵין צוּרָתָן עֲלֵיהֶן, וּכְשֶׁחוֹזֵר וְכוֹתְבָן – הֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן.רפ

וְכֵן בִּשְׁאָר נְגִיעוֹת שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִגְרֹר הָאוֹת עַד שֶׁתַּפְסִיד צוּרָתָהּרפא – אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְתַקְּנָהּ אַחַר כֵּן, כְּגוֹן יוּ"ד הָעֶלְיוֹנָה וְהַתַּחְתּוֹנָה שֶׁל הָאָלֶ"ףרפב וְהַשִּׁי"ןרפג וְהָעַיִ"ן וְהַצָּדִ"י וְהַפֵּ"א וְרֶגֶל הַתָּי"ורפד שֶׁהֵן נוֹגְעִין בְּגוּף הָאוֹת יוֹתֵר מֵהָרָאוּי בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁנִּפְסְלָה, וְכֵן מֶ"ם פְּתוּחָה שֶׁנִּסְתְּמָהרפה,129 וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה.

וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ גְּרִירָה כְּלָל, אֶלָּא כְּתִיבָה מַשֶּׁהוּ בִּלְבַד, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם הָאוֹת חֲלוּקָה לִשְׁתַּיִם וְנִרְאֵית כִּשְׁתֵּי אוֹתִיּוֹת,רפו כְּגוֹן צָדִ"י שֶׁכְּתָבָהּ יוּ"ד נוּ"ן, אוֹ שִׁי"ן שֶׁכְּתָבָהּ עַיִ"ן יוּ"ד, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתִּינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָכָם קוֹרְאָן כְּהִלְכָתָןרפז – אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְתַקְּנוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ,רפח שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁעֵינֵינוּ רוֹאוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶן צוּרַת אוֹתִיּוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת, אִם כֵּן כְּשֶׁמְּתַקְּנָם אַחַר כָּךְ – הֲרֵי זֶה כִּכְתִיבָה מֵחָדָשׁ, וַהֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹתְבָהּ שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָהּ.130

וְכֵן חֵי"ת שֶׁכְּתָבָהּ שְׁנֵי זַיִנִי"ן,131 וּפְרִידָתָן נִכֶּרֶת הֵיטֵב תֵּכֶף וּמִיָּד שֶׁרוֹאִין אוֹתָן,רפט אֲבָל אִם אֵין נִכֶּרֶת פְּרִידַת הַחֲטוֹטָרוֹתרצ שֶׁעַל גַּבֵּי זַיִנִי"ן עַד שֶׁמִּסְתַּכֵּל בָּהּ – יָכוֹל לְתַקְּנָן אַחַר־כָּךְ. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָן זַיִנִי"ן – אֵין הוֹלְכִין אַחֲרָיו בְּאוֹת זוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הַתִּינוֹק מֻרְגָּל בְּח' כָּזוֹ שֶׁעִם הַחֲטוֹטָרוֹת.רצא

(אֲבָל בְּצָדִ"י וְשִׁי"ן הוֹלְכִין (ט)רצב אַחַר קְרִיאַת הַתִּינוֹקרצג בֵּין לְהָקֵל בֵּין לְהַחְמִיר,132 אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן עֵינֵינוּ רוֹאוֹת שֶׁהֵן: יוּ"ד נוּ"ן, אוֹ עַיִ"ן יוּ"ד – אֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין עַל הַתִּינוֹק).

וְכֵן אִם לֹא עָשָׂה רֶגֶל יְמָנִית שֶׁל יוּ"דרצד – אֵין לָהּ תַּקָּנָה אַחַר־כָּךְ, אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַתִּינוֹק קוֹרְאָהּ כְּתִקּוּנָהּ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין שֵׁם יוּ"ד עָלֶיהָ בְּלֹא רֶגֶל זוֹ, וְנִמְצָא כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן.

אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשָׂה עֹקֶץ הַשְּׂמָאלִי – יָכוֹל לְתַקֵּן אַחַר־כָּךְ, שֶׁאַף בְּלֹא עֹקֶץ זֶה – שֵׁם יוּ"ד עָלֶיהָ, וְאֵין בַּעֲשִׂיָּתוֹ מִשּׁוּם כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן:

Fig. 38
Fig. 38

Fig. 39
Fig. 39

31 [The passages] must be written for the sake of the mitzvah,133 i.e., one must write them with the explicit intent that they be used for the sacred purpose of tefillin. If one writes them without [this] specific intent, they are invalid.

[Moreover,] each time G‑d’s name appears,134 it must be written explicitly for the sake of its holiness.135 If it is written without [this] specific intent, [the passages] must be put aside.

There is an unresolved question [in Jewish Law]: Whenever an activity must be undertaken for the sake of a particular mitzvah, is it sufficient that one have the intent in one’s heart that he is doing it for its designated purpose, e.g., writing the passages of tefillin for the sake of their holy purpose and writing G‑d’s name with its sacred intent, or must one verbalize that intent, thought alone being insufficient?

Since the unresolved doubt involves a point of Scriptural Law, one must follow the more stringent opinion. [Therefore,] when a person begins to write, he must state, “I am writing these passages for the sake of the holiness of tefillin.” Moreover, whenever he writes G‑d’s name, he must state that he is writing it specifically for the sake of the holiness of G‑d’s name.

If [the scribe] did not state this explicitly when writing G‑d’s name, but had the intent in his heart, what he has written is acceptable after the fact, since he did make an explicit statement when he began to write that he was writing [these passages] for the sake of the mitzvah.136

If, however, he did not verbalize this intent when he began to write, one should be stringent — because a point of Scriptural Law is involved — and disqualify [the passages] even after the fact, even though [the scribe] had [the proper] intent in his heart.

With regard to the processing of hides [for parchment], by contrast, one may be [more] lenient. [Parchment is acceptable] after the fact if, at the beginning of the process, the [craftsman] had the intent in his heart that he was processing the hides for use in a Torah scroll or for tefillin, even though he did not state this explicitly.

[The rationale is that] some authorities do not require that the parchment be processed with the intent that it be used for a sacred purpose. [They maintain that] doing so is merely the choicest way of performing the mitzvah, but after the fact, [the parchment] is acceptable even when processed without this intent.

Even though the halachah does not rule according to this view, one may rely on it to reach a lenient ruling after the fact when [the craftsman] has had the intent in his heart without verbalizing it — for perhaps thought alone suffices, even initially.

לא הַכְּתִיבָה – צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת לִשְׁמָהּ,רצה,133 שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת לְשֵׁם קְדֻשַּׁת תְּפִלִּין בְּפֵרוּשׁ.רצו וְאִם כְּתָבָן סְתָם – פְּסוּלוֹת.רצז וְהָאַזְכָּרוֹת134 – צָרִיךְ לְכָתְבָן לְשֵׁם קְדֻשָּׁתָן בְּפֵרוּשׁרחצ,135 וְאִם כְּתָבָן סְתָם – יִגָּנְזוּ.

וְיֵשׁ לְהִסְתַּפֵּק בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִשְׁמָהּ, אִם דַּי בַּמַּחֲשָׁבָהרצט שֶׁיַּחְשֹׁב בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה דָּבָר זֶה לְשֵׁם מַה שֶּׁצָּרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ, כְּגוֹן הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת לְשֵׁם קְדֻשָּׁתָן וְהָאַזְכָּרוֹת לְשֵׁם קְדֻשָּׁתָן, אוֹ אִם צָרִיךְ לְהוֹצִיא כֵּן בִּשְׂפָתָיו וְלֹא דַּי בַּמַּחֲשָׁבָה לְבַד. וְסָפֵק שֶׁל תּוֹרָה – לְהַחְמִיר.

וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאמַר בְּפִיו בְּהַתְחָלַת הַכְּתִיבָה: אֲנִי כּוֹתֵב פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת אֵלּוּ לְשֵׁם קְדֻשַּׁת תְּפִלִּין.ש וּמִלְּבַד זֶה, בְּכָל פַּעַם שֶׁכּוֹתֵב אַזְכָּרָה – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאמַר שֶׁכּוֹתְבָהּ לְשֵׁם קְדֻשַּׁת הַשֵּׁם, וְאִם לֹא אָמַר כֵּן בְּפֵרוּשׁ בִּכְתִיבַת הָאַזְכָּרוֹת, אֶלָּא חוֹשֵׁב כֵּן בְּלִבּוֹ – כְּשֵׁרוֹת בְּדִיעֲבַד,שא,136 הוֹאִיל וְהוֹצִיא בִּתְחִלַּת הַכְּתִיבָה בְּפִיו שֶׁכּוֹתְבָן לִשְׁמָן. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הוֹצִיא מִפִּיו בִּתְחִלַּת הַכְּתִיבָהשב – יֵשׁ לְהַחְמִיר בְּשֶׁל תּוֹרָהשג וְלִפְסֹל אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִיעֲבַד, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחִשֵׁב בְּלִבּוֹ.

אֲבָל בְּעִבּוּד הָעוֹרוֹת – יֵשׁ לְהָקֵל בְּדִיעֲבַדשד אִם חָשַׁב בְּלִבּוֹ בִּתְחִלַּת הָעִבּוּד שֶׁמְּעַבְּדָן לְשֵׁם סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אוֹ תְּפִלִּין, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו, לְפִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ אוֹמְרִיםשה שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ עִבּוּד לִשְׁמָהּ אֶלָּא לְמִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר, אֲבָל בְּדִיעֲבַד כָּשֵׁר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּעֻבָּד שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמוֹ. וְאַף שֶׁאֵין דִּבְרֵיהֶם עִקָּר,שו מִכָּל מָקוֹם יֵשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל זֶה לְהָקֵל בְּדִיעֲבַד כְּשֶׁחִשֵׁב בְּלִבּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו, כֵּיוָן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְהִסְתַּפֵּק שֶׁמָּא דַּי בַּמַּחֲשָׁבָה לְבַדָּהּ אֲפִלּוּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה:

32 When [a scribe] is dozing off he should not write [tefillin], for then he is not writing with the intent of the mitzvah. (For although a verbal statement is necessary only when one begins to write, one must have the intent in mind that he is writing for the sake of tefillin throughout the entire [time he is] writing. One may not write as a casual activity. To cite a parallel: While writing the operative clauses of a bill of divorce, [the scribe] must have in mind throughout that he is writing for the sake of this particular husband and wife, as explained above.)137

לב כְּשֶׁבָּא לְהִתְנַמְנֵם – לֹא יִכְתֹּב,שז מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ כּוֹתֵב אָז בְּכַוָּנָה לִשְׁמָהּשח (שֶׁאַף שֶׁלּוֹמַר בְּפִיו אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ אֶלָּא בִּתְחִלַּת הַכְּתִיבָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בְּכָל הַכְּתִיבָה שֶׁכּוֹתֵב לְשֵׁם תְּפִלִּין וְלֹא כְּמִתְעַסֵּק בְּעָלְמָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁבְּגֵט צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בְּכָל תֹּרֶף הַגֵּט שֶׁכּוֹתְבוֹ לִשְׁמוֹ וְלִשְׁמָהּשט כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה):שי,137

33 [A scribe] must be very careful [to write the words in the tefillin as they are written in the Torah], being precise as to which words are to be spelled in brief and which are to be spelled in full,138 for if one subtracts or adds a single letter [from or to the traditional text], the tefillin are invalid. People who put them on will thus be reciting a blessing in vain every day, and also will be lacking [the observance of] the mitzvah of tefillin every day. The punishment of the scribe will thus be weighty.

For this reason, those who engage in the writing and preparing of tefillin must be permeated by the fear of G‑d and stand in great awe of His word.

[Accordingly,] one must warn and protest against those scribes who allow their youthful apprentices to write [passages for] tefillin or mezuzos, and then, if they see that they are written correctly, they sell them. [By doing so,] they cause people at large to sin, and ensnare them with the use of tefillin and mezuzos that are invalid. For the youth will act immaturely, and when writing them will only think about training himself and practicing an attractive handwriting. His intent will not be directed towards any holiness or mitzvah whatever.139

The retribution [to be visited upon] the scribe will be great; he will be made accountable and will be severely punished. Of him the verse says,140 “Cursed be he who performs the work of G‑d deceitfully.” Every scribe should therefore take care regarding this manner, for his own benefit.

לג צָרִיךְ לְדַקְדֵּק מְאֹד בַּחֲסֵרוֹת וִיתֵרוֹת,שיא,138 שֶׁאִם חָסֵר אוֹ יַתִּיר אוֹת אַחַת – פְּסוּלִין הַתְּפִלִּין, וְנִמְצָא הַמְּנִיחִים אוֹתָן – מְבָרְכִין בְּכָל יוֹם בְּרָכָה לְבַטָּלָה, וְגַם שְׁרוּיִין בְּכָל יוֹם בְּלֹא מִצְוַת תְּפִלִּין. וְנִמְצָא עֹנֶשׁ הַסּוֹפֵר מְרֻבֶּה.

לָכֵן צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת מְאֹד יְרֵא שָׁמַיִם וְחָרֵד לִדְבַר הַ' הַמִּתְעַסֵּק בִּכְתִיבַת הַתְּפִלִּין וְתִקּוּנָם. וְגַם צָרִיךְ לְהַזְהִיר וְלִמְחוֹת בְּסוֹפְרִים הַמַּנִּיחִים לְנַעֲרֵיהֶם לִכְתֹּב תְּפִלִּין אוֹ מְזוּזוֹת,שיב וְאִם רוֹאֶה שֶׁנִּכְתְּבוּ כְּהִלְכָתָן – אֲזַי מוֹכְרָן, וְהוּא מַחֲטִיא אֶת הָרַבִּים וּמַכְשִׁילָן בִּתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזוֹת פְּסוּלִין, כִּי הַנַּעַר – נַעַר, וְאֵינוֹ מְכַוֵּן בִּכְתִיבָתוֹ אֶלָּא לְיַפּוֹת הַכְּתָב לְהִתְלַמֵּד וּלְהִתְרַגֵּל בּוֹ, וְלֹא לְשֵׁם קְדֻשָּׁה וְכַוָּנַת מִצְוָה בָּעוֹלָם,139 וַהֲרֵי עֹנֶשׁ הַסּוֹפֵר מְרֻבֶּה מְאֹד, וְעָתִיד לִתֵּן אֶת הַדִּין וּלְקַבֵּל עָנְשׁוֹ הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד, וְעָלָיו נֶאֱמַר:שיג,140 "אָרוּר עֹשֶׂה מְלֶאכֶת ה' רְמִיָּה", לָכֵן יִזָּהֵר כָּל סוֹפֵר מִזֶּה, וְטוֹב לוֹ:

34 It is advisable to experiment with the quill141 before beginning to write a passage, so that it not have excess ink that might spoil [the script]. Similarly, one should be careful [and check] that the quill is fit to write G‑d’s name. [I.e.,] one should not begin by writing G‑d’s name directly [after dipping the pen in the inkwell], so that [the letters of] His name will not be marred by excessive ink. Instead, one should follow the practice which will be described in Yoreh Deah, sec. 276.142

Similarly, whenever [a scribe] writes G‑d’s name, he should first make a point of checking and reading through everything written previously in that passage, making certain that there is nothing there to disqualify it,143 so that the Divine name will not be have to be put aside on his account.

After completing a passage, one should read it in its entirety with concentration and careful attention two or three times before one begins to write the second passage. This should also be done after completing the second and the third passages.

In addition, it is desirable that one reread every passage of the head-tefillin before placing it in its compartment, lest it be exchanged for another [passage].144

Why must one go back and carefully check over every passage after one completes it? Because if one finds a letter missing in one passage, not only is that passage invalidated, but everything [written] afterwards is also invalidated thereby, for after [letters] have been rewritten in the early passage, [the later passages] will have been written in incorrect sequence.

For this reason one may not [insert] the missing letter by suspending it between the lines, as is done with regard to a Torah scroll.145 For with regard to tefillin it is written, “And these [words] shall be....” Implied is that they shall come into being [in the order in which they appear in the Torah]. The same applies with regard to a mezuzah.

לד טוֹב לְנַסּוֹת הַקּוּלְמוּס141 קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּתְחִיל לִכְתֹּב הַפָּרָשָׁה,שיד שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא עָלָיו דְּיוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּי וְיַפְסִיד.

וְכֵן יִזָּהֵר אִם טוֹב הַקּוּלְמוּס לִכְתֹּב בּוֹ אֶת הַשֵּׁם, שֶׁלֹּא יַתְחִיל לִכְתֹּב אֶת הַשֵּׁם מִיָּד שֶׁלֹּא יַפְסִידֶנּוּ בְּרִבּוּי הַדְּיוֹ,שטו אֶלָּא יַעֲשֶׂה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן רעו.שטז,142

וְכֵן יִזָּהֵר קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב כָּל שֵׁם,שיז לְעַיֵּן וְלִקְרוֹת כָּל מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּאוֹתָהּ פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה שָׁם פְּסוּל,שיח,143 וְלֹא יָבוֹא הַשֵּׁם לִידֵי גְּנִיזָה עַל יָדוֹ.

וְאַחַר שֶׁיַּשְׁלִים הַפָּרָשָׁה יִקְרָאֶנָּה כֻּלָּהּ בְּכַוָּנָה וְדִקְדּוּק הֵיטֵב פַּעֲמַיִם וְשָׁלֹשׁ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב פָּרָשָׁה שְׁנִיָּה,שיט וְכֵן בַּשְּׁנִיָּה וּבַשְּׁלִישִׁית. וּמִלְּבַד זֶה, טוֹב שֶׁיַּחֲזֹר וְיִקְרָא כָּל פָּרָשָׁה בִּתְפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְּנֶנָּה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ, שֶׁמָּא תִּתְחַלֵּף לוֹ בְּאַחֶרֶת.144

וְלָמָּה יַחֲזֹר לְדַקְדֵּק וּלְהַגִּיהַּ כָּל פָּרָשָׁה אַחַר שֶׁהִשְׁלִימָהּ? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאִם יִמְצָא אֵיזֶה חֶסְרוֹן אוֹת בְּאֵיזֶה פָּרָשָׁה לֹא הִיא לְבַדָּהּ נִפְסְלָה, אֶלָּא כָּל מַה שֶּׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ גַּם כֵּן נִפְסַל עַל יָדָהּ,שכ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן עִם פָּרָשָׁה הַמֻּקְדֶּמֶת שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב מֵחָדָשׁ לְאַחֲרֵיהֶן.

וְכֵן מִטַּעַם זֶהשכא אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִתְלוֹת הָאוֹת שֶׁנֶּחְסְרָה בֵּין הַשִּׁיטוֹתשכב כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁתּוֹלִין בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה145 לְפִי שֶׁבִּתְפִלִּין נֶאֱמַר:שכג "וְהָיוּ" – בַּהֲוָיָתָן יִהְיוּ,שכד שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כְּסִדְרָן, וְכֵן בִּמְזוּזָה:שכה

35 If, by contrast, one writes a superfluous letter, this can be corrected by scraping it away if it is at the end of a word or at its beginning. If, however, it is in the middle of a word, correction is sometimes not effective, for when [the superfluous letter] is scraped away, [the word] appears to be two words.

Sometimes, however, correction is effective — when one scrapes away the superfluous letter and extends the preceding letter to fill the vacated space, so that the word will not [remain] divided. For example, if one wrote the word לאבותיך in its full spelling, including a vav after the beis, one may scrape away [the vav] and extend the preceding beis to fill its space.146 Similarly, if a correction is dependent on a [preceding] chaf, dalet, or resh, it is possible to extend them somewhat to fill the space of the superfluous letter which was scraped away.

If, however, [one of] the letters which can be extended follows the superfluous letter that would have to be scraped away, it is impossible to extend [it] backwards147 without first scraping away part of [it]. For example, if one wrote the word שאר in its full spelling, [mistakenly] interposing a vav after the alef, it is impossible to extend the resh backwards unless one first scrapes away its leg. By doing so, [however,] one deprives it of its shape. Thus when one [goes back to] correct it, one will be writing in incorrect sequence.

There is no remedy unless one can fill the blank space by slightly thickening the preceding and following letters. This is not considered to be changing the shape of the letter. When, by contrast, the letters which can be extended precede the superfluous letter, one can extend them considerably without detracting from their [standard form].

לה אֲבָל אִם יִתֵּר אוֹת אַחַתשכו – יֵשׁ לָהּ תַּקָּנָה עַל יְדֵי שֶׁיִּגְרֹר אוֹתָהּ, אִם הִיא בְּסוֹף הַתֵּבָה אוֹ בִּתְחִלָּתָהּ. אֲבָל אִם הִיא בְּאֶמְצַע הַתֵּבָה – פְּעָמִים שֶׁאֵין תִּקּוּן מוֹעִיל,שכז מִשּׁוּם שֶׁכְּשֶׁיִּגְרְרֶנָּה יִהְיֶה נִרְאֶה כִּשְׁתֵּי תֵּבוֹת, וּפְעָמִים שֶׁתִּקּוּן מוֹעִילשכח עַל יְדֵי שֶׁיִּגְרְרֶנָּה וְיִמְשֹׁךְ הָאוֹת שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ שֶׁתְּמַלֵּא מְקוֹמָהּ וְלֹא תִּהְיֶה הַתֵּבָה חֲלוּקָה, כְּגוֹן "לַאֲבוֹתֶיךָ" שֶׁכָּתַב מָלֵא וָי"ו אַחַר הַב' – יִגְרְרֶנָּה וְיִמְשֹׁךְ הַב' שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ שֶׁתְּמַלֵּא מְקוֹמָהּ.146 וְכֵן אִם הַתִּקּוּן תָּלוּי בְּכָ"ף אוֹ דָלֶי"ת אוֹ רֵי"שׁ שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהַמְשִׁיכָן מְעַט לְמַלֵּא מְקוֹם אוֹת הַיְתֵרָה שֶׁנִּגְרְרָה.

אֲבָל אִם הָאוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהַמְשִׁיכָן הֵן אַחַר אוֹת הַיְתֵרָה, שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַמְשִׁיכָן לַאֲחוֹרֵיהֶם147 עַד שֶׁיִּגְרֹר מֵהֶם תְּחִלָּה, כְּגוֹן שְׂאֹר שֶׁכָּתַב מָלֵא וָי"ו אַחַר הָאָלֶ"ף, שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לִמְשֹׁךְ הָרֵי"שׁ לְאַחֲרֶיהָ עַד שֶׁיִּגְרֹר רַגְלָהּ תְּחִלָּה, וְנִמְצָא שֶׁבִּטֵּל צוּרָתָהּ, וּכְשֶׁמְּתַקְּנָהּ אַחַר־כָּךְ – נִמְצָא כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן. וְאֵין תַּקָּנָה, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יָכוֹל לְמַלֹּאות מְקוֹמוֹ עַל יְדֵי שֶׁיְּעַבֶּה קְצָת הָאוֹת שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ וְשֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ, שֶׁאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שִׁנּוּי הָאוֹת.שכט

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁהָאוֹתִיּוֹת שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהַמְשִׁיכָן הֵן לִפְנֵי הָאוֹת הַיְתֵרָה – אֲזַי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַמְשִׁיכָן הַרְבֵּה מִבְּלִי שֶׁיִּגָּרַע מֵהֶם כְּלוּם:

Fig. 40: The unity of a word divided by the erasure of a superfluous letter can sometimes be salvaged.
Fig. 40: The unity of a word divided by the erasure of a superfluous letter can sometimes be salvaged.

36 There is, nevertheless, a question in [the following situation]. The word מצת should be spelled in brief, [i.e., without a vav]. If one wrote it in its full spelling, [adding a vav, there is a question] as to whether lengthening the base of the tzaddik is sufficient after scraping away the vav. It could be argued that as long as one does not extend the upper part of the letter, the word is still considered as [divided in] two.148

Similarly, the word נתן should be written [thus,] in brief. There is a question whether, [if it was written in its full spelling,] it is possible to validate the word by elongating [only] the base line of the [preceding] nun after erasing the vav. At any rate, whenever a word appears to be two words, it is invalid.

If, however, when [a scribe] began writing, he [first] extended the base line of a nun or a tzaddik [to the left] and then wrote the adjoining letter above that line149 — like this:

[or like this:]
— this is acceptable,150 provided he does not extend them exceedingly.

If [such a letter] is extended exceedingly to fill in a line, its validity is questionable.151 One should [therefore] show it to a young child who is neither bright nor slow, as is done with regard to any letter of doubtful [shape], as will be explained in sec. 36[:4].152

לו אָמְנָם יֵשׁ לְהִסְתַּפֵּקשל בְּ"מַצֹּת", שֶׁמִּשְׁפָּטָהּ לִהְיוֹת חָסֵר, וּכְתָבָהּ מָלֵא – אִם מוֹעִיל אֲרִיכוּת הַצָּדִ"י לְמַטָּה אַחַר שֶׁיִּגְרֹר הַוָּי"ו, כִּי שֶׁמָּא כָּל עוֹד שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַאֲרִיךְ הָאוֹת לְמַעְלָה נֶחְשֶׁבֶת כִּשְׁתֵּי תֵּבוֹת. וְכֵן בְּ"נֹתֵן" שֶׁמִּשְׁפָּטָהּ לִהְיוֹת חָסֵר – אִם מוֹעִיל אֲרִיכוּת הַנּוּ"ן לְמַטָּה אַחַר גְּרִירַת הַוָּי"ו. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם כָּל שֶׁנִּרְאֵית כִּשְׁתֵּי תֵּבוֹת148 – פְּסוּלָה.

אֲבָל אִם בִּתְחִלַּת הַכְּתִיבָה מַמְשִׁיךְ רֶגֶל הַתַּחְתּוֹן שֶׁל הַנּוּ"ן וְהַצָּדִ"ישלא וְכוֹתֵב הָאוֹת הַסְּמוּכָה בְּתוֹכָהּ149 כָּזֶה:

Fig. 14: These four passages for the head-tefillin were written by one of the expert contemporary exponents of “the Alter Rebbe’s script.” Nevertheless, this illustration is not intended as a definitive guide to lettering, spacing, indentations and the like.
Fig. 14: These four passages for the head-tefillin were written by one of the expert contemporary exponents of “the Alter Rebbe’s script.” Nevertheless, this illustration is not intended as a definitive guide to lettering, spacing, indentations and the like.
 – כָּשֵׁר,150 וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יִמְשֹׁךְ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי. וְאִם הִמְשִׁיךְ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאישלב כְּדֵי לְמַלֹּאות הַשִּׁיטָהשלג – יֵשׁ לְהִסְתַּפֵּק אִם כָּשֵׁר אִם לָאו.151 (י) וְיֵשׁ לְהַרְאוֹת לְתִינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ לֹא חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ,שלד כְּמוֹ שֶׁעוֹשִׂין בְּכָל אוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ סָפֵק, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן לו:שלה,152

37 If [a scribe] wrote an [entire] superfluous word, he should scrape it away and leave its place blank. For though there should not be blank space [in a passage of tefillin, after the fact] this does not disqualify [the passage], provided that the space [between the words] is not as great as the space [which must be left] between two passages, i.e., the width of nine letters.

If the word preceding the space ends in a hei or in a kuf, one may not extend these letters to fill in the space, because the [left] leg of the hei or the kuf must be positioned at the end of the letter. And if one would scrape away the leg and write it [anew] at the [elongated] end [of the letter], one would be writing in incorrect sequence.153

The [following] leniency may, however, be granted if, [in the midst of] a passage, a space the width of nine letters will be left [between words] when a superfluous word is scraped away. This would leave a space equivalent to the space [that ordinarily indicates a break] between one passage and another, and [this misplaced space] would disqualify the tefillin. In such a case, one may extend [the upper line of] a hei [to the left] even though the leg will no longer be at the [left] end of the letter. The rationale [for ruling leniently] is that this [disqualifying factor] is not mentioned in the Talmud.154

לז אִם כָּתַב תֵּבָה אַחַת יְתֵרָה – יִגְרְרֶנָּה וְיִהְיֶה מְקוֹמָהּ חָלָק.שלו וְאַף שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת שָׁם חָלָק – אֵין זֶה פּוֹסֵל, כָּל שֶׁאֵין בִּמְקוֹם הֶחָלָק כְּשִׁעוּר הָרֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה, שֶׁהוּא כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת.שלז

וְאִם סִיּוּם הַתֵּבָה שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ הוּא אוֹת הֵ"א אוֹ קוּ"ף – אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַמְשִׁיכָן לְמַלֹּאות מְקוֹם הֶחָלָק, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁרֶגֶל הַהֵ"א וְהַקוּ"ף צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בְּסוֹפָן,שלח וְאִם יִגְרֹר הָרֶגֶל וְיִכְתְּבֶנּוּ בַּסּוֹף – נִמְצָא כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן.שלט,153

אֲבָל אִם יִהְיֶה חָלָק כְּשִׁעוּר תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת כְּשֶׁיִּגְרֹר תֵּבָה הַיְתֵרָה,שמ וְנִמְצָא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין שָׁם פָּרָשָׁה וְיִפָּסְלוּ הַתְּפִלִּיןשמא – יֵשׁ לְהָקֵל לִמְשֹׁךְ הַהֵ"א אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא רַגְלָהּ בְּסוֹפָה,שמב מֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא הֻזְכַּר זֶה בַּתַּלְמוּד:154

38 If [a scribe] was writing and erred, and erased [the script] while it was still wet, or [let] it dry and scraped it away — and similarly, if ink fell on parchment and he erased it while it was still wet, or scraped it away after it dried — it is permissible to write even the Divine name on the spot that was erased or scraped, as is permissible with regard to a Torah scroll.

Initially, however, it is preferable not to erase [the ink] while it is wet, but rather to dry it well near a flame, for then it will be scraped away easily without leaving any traces.

לח הָיָה כּוֹתֵב וְטָעָה וּמְחָקוֹ בְּעוֹדוֹ לַח, אוֹ שֶׁנִּתְיַבֵּשׁ וּגְרָרוֹ, וְכֵן אִם נָפַל דְּיוֹ עַל הַקְּלָף וּמְחָקוֹ בְּעוֹדוֹ לַח, אוֹ גְּרָרוֹ לְאַחַר שֶׁנִּתְיַבֵּשׁ – מֻתָּר לִכְתֹּב עַל מְקוֹם הַמַּחַק, אוֹ עַל מְקוֹם הַגְּרָרשמג אֲפִלּוּ הָאַזְכָּרָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁמֻּתָּר בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה.שדמ

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, טוֹב לְכַתְּחִלָּה שֶׁלֹּא יִמְחֹק בְּעוֹדוֹ לַח,שמה אֶלָּא יְיַבְּשֶׁנּוּ יָפֶה בָּאֵשׁ, כִּי אָז יִגָרֵר בְּקַל, וְלֹא יִשָּׁאֵר לוֹ שׁוּם רשֶׁם:

39 If one of the letters of the Divine name becomes attached to another, one may separate them by scraping away [the point of contact]. This is not considered to be erasing the Divine name; [on the contrary,] it is thereby being corrected.

לט נִדְבַּק אוֹת לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּ בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַשֵּׁם – יָכוֹל לְגָרְרָן וּלְהַפְרִידָן,שמו וְאֵין בִּגְרִירָה זוֹ מִשּׁוּם מוֹחֵק אֶת הַשֵּׁם,שמז שֶׁהֲרֵי מְתַקֵּן הוּא בָּ[זֶ]הּ:

40 [The following laws apply when] letters or words are slightly [flaked or faded]. If the impression is recognizable to the extent that a young child who is neither bright nor slow can read it, it is permissible to trace over [the letter] with a quill to improve the writing and renew it. This is not considered as writing in incorrect sequence, since even at this time, [before being restored,] the script is valid. By adding to it, [the scribe] is only ensuring that it not fade more.

When does the above apply? When some of the color of the [actual] ink remains. If, however, all the [actual] ink has flaked off the parchment and only a reddish trace of the disintegrated ink remains, [a scribe] who now traces over it with a quill is considered to be writing in incorrect sequence.

Needless to say, if at the outset [some of the letters] were written with ink that was not black, but dark off-white or reddish, making it necessary to trace over them [with black ink], [the passage is invalid,] for these letters are now being written in incorrect sequence.

מ אוֹתִיּוֹת וְתֵבוֹת שֶׁנִּמְחֲקוּ קְצָת,שמח אִם רִשּׁוּמָן נִכָּר כָּל־כָּךְ שֶׁתִּינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ לֹא חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ יָכוֹל לִקְרוֹתָן – מֻתָּר לְהַעֲבִיר קוּלְמוֹס עֲלֵיהֶן לְהֵיטִיב הַכְּתָב וּלְחַדֵּשׁ, וְאֵין בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן, כֵּיוָן שֶׁגַּם עַכְשָׁו הַכְּתָב הוּא כָּשֵׁר,שמט וּמַה שֶּׁמּוֹסִיף עָלָיו אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא שֶׁמְּשַׁמְּרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִתְמַחֵק יוֹתֵר.

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁקְצָת צֶבַע הַדְּיוֹ קַיָּם,שנ אֲבָל אִם קָפַץ כָּל הַדְּיוֹ מֵהַקְּלָף וְלֹא נִשְׁאַר רַק רשֶׁם אַדְמִימוּת מֵהַחֲלֻדָּה שֶׁל הַדְּיוֹ, כְּשֶׁמַּעֲבִיר הַקוּלְמוֹס עֲלֵיהֶן – הֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹתֵב שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם בִּתְחִלַּת הַכְּתִיבָה לֹא הָיָה הַדְּיוֹ שָׁחֹרשנא אֶלָּא דּוֹמֶה לְלָבָן שֶׁהֻכְהָה מַרְאִיתוֹ, אוֹ לְאָדֹם, וְצָרִיךְ לְהַעֲבִיר עֲלֵיהֶן קוּלְמוֹס – שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן:

41 Initially, one should take care that the head of a lamed from one line not intrude into the gap of a hei or a ches in the line above it, even if it does not touch [the letter].155

If [the head of a lamed] intrudes into the gap of a letter in a way that deprives the letter of its due shape, e.g., it enters the gap of a dalet and makes it appear to be a hei, the letter is invalid.

מא (יא) יֵשׁ לִזָּהֵר לְכַתְּחִלָּה שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּנֵס רֹאשׁ הַלָּמֶ"ד שֶׁל שִׁיטָה זוֹ בְּתוֹךְ אֲוִיר הַהֵ"א וְהַחֵי"ת שֶׁבַּשִּׁיטָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ,שנב אֲפִלּוּ בְּלֹא נְגִיעָה.155 וְאִם נִכְנְסוּ בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁהִפְסִיד צוּרַת הָאוֹת, כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְתוֹךְ דָּלֶי"ת וְנִרְאֵית כְּהֵ"א – פְּסוּלָה:שנג

42 [A scribe] who is not thoroughly fluent in the passages must copy them from a text, lest he err.156 If he is thoroughly fluent in part of a passage, he may write that part from memory but must copy the remainder from a text.

מב אִם אֵין הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שְׁגוּרוֹת בְּפִיו – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב מִתּוֹךְ הַכְּתָב,שנד שֶׁמָּא יִטְעֶה.שנה,156 וְאִם מִקְצָת הַפָּרָשָׁה שְׁגוּרָה בְּפִיו – מֻתָּר לִכְתֹּב אוֹתוֹ מִקְצָת בְּעַל פֶּה, וְהַשְּׁאָר מִתּוֹךְ הַכְּתָב:שנו

43 When [a scribe] writes [passages] by heart because he is thoroughly fluent in them, he must articulate each word before he writes it, lest he err and write later words first, because he is familiar with them. Even if another person dictates [the passages] to him word by word, he must also articulate each word [before he writes it].

If, however, [such a scribe] is writing from a text, he does not have to pronounce every word, for seeing it written before him is as effective as if he were articulating it.

When does the above apply? When he knows the passages thoroughly, but nevertheless copies from a pre-existing text. If, by contrast, [a scribe] does not know [the passages] thoroughly and must write from a pre-existing text, seeing the passages in writing is not sufficient to free him from the requirement to articulate each word before he writes it.

מג כְּשֶׁכּוֹתֵב בְּעַל פֶּהשנז מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן שְׁגוּרוֹת בְּפִיו – צָרִיךְ לִקְרוֹת כָּל תֵּבָה בְּפִיו קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּכְתְבֶנָּה,שנח שֶׁמָּא יִטְעֶה וְיַקְדִּים הַמְאֻחָרוֹת מֵחֲמַת שְׁגִירוּתוֹ בָּהֶן.שנט וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם אֶחָד מַקְרִיא אוֹתוֹ מִלָּה בְּמִלָּהשס – צָרִיךְ הוּא גַּם כֵּן לְהוֹצִיא כָּל מִלָּה וּמִלָּה בְּפִיו.

אֲבָל אִם כּוֹתֵב מִתּוֹךְ הַכְּתָב – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהוֹצִיא בְּפִיו,שסא שֶׁרְאִיָּתוֹ בַּכְּתָב שֶׁלְּפָנָיו מוֹעֶלֶת כְּמוֹ הַקְּרִיאָה בְּפִיו.

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁהֵן שְׁגוּרוֹת בְּפִיו,שסב וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן כּוֹתֵב מִתּוֹךְ הַכְּתָב, אֲבָל אִם אֵינָם שְׁגוּרוֹת בְּפִיו, שֶׁצָּרִיךְ הוּא לִכְתֹּב מִתּוֹךְ הַכְּתָב – אֵין רְאִיָּתוֹ בִּכְתָב מוֹעֶלֶת לוֹ לְשֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְהוֹצִיא כָּל תֵּבָה בְּפִיו קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּכְתְבֶנָּה:

44 Only a person who can read is permitted to write, even [if he copies] from a text. For a person who does not know how to read, even if he knows how to [copy and] write the letters, can easily err without realizing it.

מד אֲפִלּוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַכְּתָב אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לִכְתֹּב אֶלָּא מִי שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ לִקְרוֹת,שסג שֶׁאִם אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לִקְרוֹת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ לִכְתֹּב הָאוֹתִיּוֹת – יָכוֹל לִטְעוֹת בְּקַל וְאֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ:שסד

45 [When writing,] one should leave a blank margin of approximately [the length of] half a fingernail157 above and below the ruled lines of each passage. Some authorities maintain that the height [of the margin] above [each passage is designed to accommodate] the head of a lamed, and below the passage, to accommodate [the foot of] a final chaf or nun, so that they too be surrounded by [blank] parchment if they are to be [written] there.

Other authorities maintain that the upper blank margin of approximately half a fingernail should [begin] above the head of a lamed, and that the lower one should [begin] below the [foot of] a final chaf or nun. Initially, one should respect this opinion.

There is no obligation to leave [a blank margin] at the beginning and end of a passage.158 The scribes, however, have adopted the custom of leaving a small margin at beginning and end.

מה צָרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ חָלָק בְּכָל פָּרָשָׁה לְמַעְלָה וּלְמַטָּה מֵהַשִּׁיטוֹתשסה כְּמוֹ חֲצִי צִפֹּרֶן.שסו,157

יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםשסז שֶׁשִּׁעוּר זֶה לְמַעְלָה הוּא כְּדֵי גַּגָּהּ שֶׁל לָמֶ"ד, וּלְמַטָּה כְּשִׁעוּר ך' וְנוּ"ן פְּשׁוּטִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁגַּם הֵם יִהְיוּ מֻקָּפִים גְּוִילשסח אִם יִזְדַּמְּנוּ שָׁם.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםשסט שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ חָלָק כַּחֲצִי צִפֹּרֶן לְמַעְלָה לְמַעְלָה מִגַּגּוֹ שֶׁל לָמֶ"ד, וּלְמַטָּה לְמַטָּה מִך' וְנוּ"ן פְּשׁוּטָה. וְיֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לְדִבְרֵיהֶם לְכַתְּחִלָּה.שע

אֲבָל בִּתְחִלַּת הַפָּרָשָׁה וּבְסוֹפָהּ – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ כְּלָל.שעא,158 אַךְ הַסּוֹפְרִים נָהֲגוּ לְהָנִיחַ קְצָת בַּתְּחִלָּה וּבַסּוֹף:שעב

46 The initial and preferred option is to be careful to leave a space the [width] of a small letter, i.e., of a yud, between words. After the fact, however, one should not disqualify [a passage] unless [the two words] appear as one word to a young child who is neither bright nor slow, as is stated in Yoreh Deah 274[:4] with regard to a Torah scroll.

Similarly, the initial and preferred option is to be careful not to leave more than a hairsbreadth between letters. After the fact, however, [the passage] should not be disqualified unless the word appears to be divided in two to a young child who is neither bright nor slow, as is stated (ibid.) with regard to a Torah scroll.

Some authorities maintain that one must leave an empty space the [height] of a line [of script] between the lines [of a passage], as [is necessary] with regard to a Torah scroll. Others maintain that one must make a point of doing this only [when writing] a Torah scroll. In fact, the common practice of scribes is [to follow the latter view] and not make a point of doing this [when writing] tefillin and mezuzos.

מו צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר לְכַתְּחִלָּה לְהָנִיחַ בֵּין תֵּבָה לְתֵבָהשעג כִּמְלֹא אוֹת קְטַנָּה שֶׁהִיא יו"ד,שעד וּבְדִיעֲבַד אֵין לִפְסֹל,שעה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִרְאֵית כְּתֵבָה אַחַת לְתִינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ לֹא חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן רעדשעו בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה.

וְכֵן לְכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה בֵּין אוֹת לְאוֹת אֶלָּא כְּחוּט הַשַּׂעֲרָה,שעז וּבְדִיעֲבַד אֵין לִפְסֹל,שעח אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִרְאֵית הַתֵּבָה חֲלוּקָה לִשְׁתַּיִם לְתִינוֹק שֶׁאֵינוֹ לֹא חָכָם וְלֹא טִפֵּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב שָׁם בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםשעט שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ גַּם כֵּן בֵּין שִׁיטָה לְשִׁיטָה כִּמְלֹא שִׁיטָה, כְּמוֹ בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה.שפ

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםשפא שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לְדַקְדֵּק בָּזֶה אֶלָּא בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה. וְכֵן נָהֲגוּ הַסּוֹפְרִיםשפב שֶׁאֵין מְדַקְדְּקִין בָּזֶה בִּתְפִלִּין וּבִמְזוּזוֹת:

47 Whether [one is writing] a Torah scroll, tefillin, or mezuzos, he should not leave any more space between one verse and another than [is left] between the words within each verse. [The rationale is] that we are not knowledgeable with regard to the division of the verses that was transmitted to Moshe at Sinai.159

Nevertheless, if one did leave [space between verses, the passage] is not disqualified unless one left the amount of space that is required to be left between one passage and another. The initial and preferred option for the latter space is the width of the three words אשר אשר אשר, measured according to the style of script used within these passages. After the fact, the minimal acceptable space is the width of nine small letters, i.e., [nine times the width of] the letter yud, measured according to the style of script used within these passages, as stated in Yoreh Deah 275[:2].160

מז בֵּין בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בֵּין בִּתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזוֹת – אֵין לְהָנִיחַ חָלָק כְּלָל בֵּין פָּסוּק לְפָסוּק יוֹתֵר מִבֵּין תֵּבָה לְתֵבָה בְּפָסוּק אֶחָד,שפג מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ בְּקִיאִים בְּהֶפְסֵק הַפְּסוּקִים שֶׁנִּפְסְקוּ לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי.שפד,159

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם הֵנִיחַ – לֹא פָּסַל,שפה אִם לֹא הֵנִיחַ כְּשִׁעוּר רֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה, שֶׁהִיא לְכַתְּחִלָּה כְּשָׁלֹשׁ תֵּבוֹתשפו "אֲשֶׁר אֲשֶׁר אֲשֶׁר" מֵאוֹתוֹ הַכְּתָב, וּבְדִיעֲבַד כְּתֵשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת קְטַנּוֹת שֶׁהֵן יוּ"דִין שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ הַכְּתָב, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן ערה:שפז,160

48 The initial and preferred option is to be careful to write all the lines of equal length, and not have one line indented within the margin or protruding beyond it by even a single letter. If, however, [a scribe] happens to reach a five-letter word at the end of a line, and he cannot write it within the line using his present style of writing, he may write three letters of it within the margin and two letters outside the margin.161 He may not, however, write two letters within the margin and three letters outside it.

Even if [the last] word [on a line] has eight letters, one may not write five within the margin and three protruding, even though the greater part of the word is within the margin. Moreover, two letters which form a word may not be written outside the margin.162

All the above applies as the initial and preferred option. After the fact, even if [the scribe] wrote a word comprising many letters beyond the margin, this does not disqualify [the passage].

מח לְכַתְּחִלָּה יֵשׁ לִזָּהֵר לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל הַשּׁוּרוֹת שָׁווֹת,שפח שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא אַחַת נִכְנֶסֶת וְאַחַת יוֹצֵאת, וַאֲפִלּוּ אוֹת אַחַת.שפט

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם נִזְדַּמְּנָה לוֹ תֵּבָה בַּת חָמֵשׁ אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָהשצ וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכָתְבָהּ בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁיטָה בְּאוֹתוֹ כְּתָב שֶׁהוּא כּוֹתֵב בּוֹ – יָכוֹל לִכְתֹּב שָׁלֹשׁ אוֹתִיּוֹת מִמֶּנָּה בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁיטָה וּשְׁתַּיִם חוּץ לַשִּׁיטָה,161 אֲבָל לֹא שְׁתַּיִם בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁיטָה וְשָׁלֹשׁ חוּץ לַשִּׁיטָה.

וַאֲפִלּוּ תֵּבָה בַּת שְׁמוֹנֶה אוֹתִיּוֹתשצא – לֹא יִכְתֹּב חָמֵשׁ מִמֶּנָּה בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁיטָה וְשָׁלֹשׁ חוּץ לַשִּׁיטָה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֹב הַתֵּבָה בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁיטָה.

וַאֲפִלּוּ שְׁתֵּי אוֹתִיּוֹתשצב אִם הֵן תֵּבָה אַחַת – לֹא יִכְתֹּב אוֹתָן חוּץ לַשִּׁיטָה.שצג,162

וְכָל זֶה לְכַתְּחִלָּה,שצד אֲבָל בְּדִיעֲבַד אֲפִלּוּ כָּתַב תֵּבָה בַּת הַרְבֵּה אוֹתִיּוֹת חוּץ לַשִּׁיטָה – לֹא פָּסַל:

49 Initially, the letters of G‑d’s name — whether the unique name,163 or any of the other Divine names which may not be erased, or even the letters which are suffixed to G‑d’s name164 — must all be within the margin, and should not protrude at all.

After the fact, [such passages] are acceptable for tefillin (since they cannot be corrected, lest the letters be written out of sequence). With regard to a Torah scroll, by contrast, [one should not rely on this leniency, for] one may scrape away all the preceding lines [of that column] if they do not include any of the names of G‑d that cannot be erased, and then extend them so that they will be even with the name of G‑d that protrudes.

מט אוֹתִיּוֹת הַשֵּׁם,שצה בֵּין שֵׁם הַמְיֻחָד163 בֵּין שְׁאָר שֵׁמוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן נִמְחָקִין,שצו וַאֲפִלּוּ הַנִּטְפָּל לַשֵּׁם מֵאַחֲרָיו164 – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כֻּלָּם בְּתוֹךְ הַשִּׁיטָה וְלֹא יֵצֵא מֵהֶן כְּלָל חוּץ לַשִּׁיטָה לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וּבְדִיעֲבַד – כָּשֵׁר בִּתְפִלִּיןשצז (שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְתַקְּנָן מִשּׁוּם שֶׁלֹּא כְּסִדְרָן).שצח

אֲבָל בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָהשצט – יָכוֹל לִמְחֹק כָּל הַשּׁוּרוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת, אִם אֵין בָּהֶם שׁוּם שֵׁם מִשֵּׁמוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן נִמְחָקִין, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ יִמְשֹׁךְ אוֹתָן עַד שֶׁתִּהְיֶינָה שָׁווֹת עִם הַשֵּׁם הַיּוֹצֵא:

50 Since the four passages of the arm-tefillin are written on one parchment scroll,165 they are bound by the laws pertaining to Scriptural passages which are pesuchos (“open”) and setumos166 (“closed”). For when a space [at least] nine letters wide is left at the end of the last line of the first passage, and the next passage starts at the beginning of the [first] line in the second column, that next passage is called pesuchah.167 This is the same as with a Torah scroll: A passage which starts at the beginning of a column is called pesuchah when it is preceded by a space [at least] nine letters wide at the end of the last line of the previous column.

In the arm-tefillin, therefore, every passage must be written as it appears — whether pesuchah or setumah — in a Torah scroll. This means that a space [at least] nine letters wide must be left at the end of the last line of the passage Kadesh [which is the first passage of the tefillin], so that the passage Vehayah ki yeviacha which starts at the beginning of the first line of the second column will be pesuchah, as it appears in the Torah. If it is written as setumah, it is invalid.

The concepts of pesuchah and setumah do not apply to [the beginning of] the passage Kadesh, since nothing is written before it in the tefillin. It therefore starts at the [very] beginning of the first line [of the first column]. Although it is written as pesuchah in the Torah, no space is left before it [in the tefillin] because nothing else is written before it — and no passage could have a more “open” beginning than one that has no other script to “close” [the passage that precedes] it.

At the end of the last line of the passage Vehayah ki yeviacha, one should leave a space [at least] nine letters wide so that the passage Shema, which starts at the beginning of the first line of the third column, will be pesuchah, as it appears in the Torah. If it is written as setumah, it is invalid.

The passage Vehayah im shamoa, by contrast, is setumah in the Torah, and thus should also be setumah in tefillin. If it was written as pesuchah, some authorities deem it invalid, though after the fact others deem it valid [for the following reason].

Although in the Torah it is setumah, nevertheless, in the Torah does not follow directly after the passage Shema at all.168 Hence the fact that [with regard to tefillin] the space between it and the [preceding] passage Shema is pesuchah, and not setumah like the “closed” space before it in the Torah, is not considered a deviation — because in the Torah, too, the [beginning of the] space before it is not “closed” by the preceding passage Shema. [On the contrary,] in the Torah there is considerable space between the passage Shema and [the later passage Vehayah im shamoa].169

With regard to the passage Shema, by contrast, the fact that it does not [follow directly after] the passage Vehayah ki yeviacha in the Torah does not detract from the necessity to write it as pesuchah. The halachah rules according to this view.

If, however, no space at all was left between the passage [Vehayah im shamoa] and the [preceding] passage Shema on any line in their columns, neither in the column of [Vehayah im shamoa] nor in the column of Shema — i.e., [the passage Vehayah im shamoa] started at the beginning of the first line of [its] column, and no preceding space whatsoever was left on that line nor at the end of the [last] line of the passage Shema, or even if a space was left but it was not of the nine-letter width that separates passages in the Torah — this is considered a (total deviation) from the manner in which it is written in the Torah, and it is invalid even after the fact. Rather, there should be a space which is setumah left before it, as is left before all passages which are setumos in the Torah.

At the conclusion [of the passage Vehayah im shamoa], however, it is not necessary to leave any blank space. This in fact is the custom — to conclude the words al haaretz at the end of the last line [of the passage Vehayah im shamoa].

נ אַרְבַּע פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל יָד, הוֹאִיל וְהֵן נִכְתָּבוֹת בִּקְלָף אֶחָדת,165 וְשַׁיָּךְ בָּהֶן פְּתוּחָה וּסְתוּמָה,תא,166 שֶׁכְּשֶׁמֵּנִיחַ מָקוֹם חָלָק בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁל פָּרָשָׁה רִאשׁוֹנָה כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת וּמַתְחִיל פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה בַּדַּף הַשֵּׁנִיתב – הֲרֵי פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָתג נִקְרֵאת פְּתוּחָה,167 כְּמוֹ שֶׁבְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָהתד נִקְרֵאת פָּרָשָׁה הַמַּתְחֶלֶת בְּרֹאשׁ הַדַּף פָּרָשָׁה פְּתוּחָה, כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ רֶוַח כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת לְפָנֶיהָ בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבַּדַּף הַקּוֹדֵם.

לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לִכְתֹּב בְּשֶׁל יָד כָּל פָּרָשָׁה כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה,תה אִם פְּתוּחָה – פְּתוּחָה, וְאִם סְתוּמָה – סְתוּמָה. דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ מָקוֹם חָלָק כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבְּפָרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ",תו כְּדֵי שֶׁפָּרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ" שֶׁיַּתְחִיל בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁבַּדַּף הַשֵּׁנִי תִּהְיֶה פָּרָשָׁה פְּתוּחָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא בַּתּוֹרָה. וְאִם עֲשָׂאָהּ סְתוּמָה – פְּסוּלָה.תז

אֲבָל פָּרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ" – לֹא שַׁיָּךְ בָּהּ פְּתוּחָה וּסְתוּמָה,תח כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין כָּתוּב לְפָנֶיהָ כְּלוּם בַּתְּפִלִּין, וְלָכֵן מַתְחִילִין אוֹתָהּ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה וְאֵין מְנִיחִין לְפָנֶיהָ כְּלוּם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה הִיא פְּתוּחָה, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין כְּתוּבָה לְפָנֶיהָ כְּלוּם – אֵין לְךָ פְּתוּחָה גְּדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ שֶׁאֵין כְּתָב אַחֵר סוֹתְמָהּ.

וּבְסוֹף שִׁיטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבְּפָרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ" – צָרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ מָקוֹם חָלָק כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁפָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" שֶׁיַּתְחִיל בְּרֹאשׁ שִׁיטָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁבַּדַּף הַשְּׁלִישִׁי תִּהְיֶה פְּתוּחָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא בַּתּוֹרָה. וְאִם עֲשָׂאָהּ סְתוּמָה – פְּסוּלָה.תט

אֲבָל פָּרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ" שֶׁהִיא סְתוּמָה בַּתּוֹרָהתי – צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת גַּם כֵּן סְתוּמָה בַּתְּפִלִּין.

וְאִם עֲשָׂאָהּ פְּתוּחָה – יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁפּוֹסֵל.תיא וְיֵשׁ מַכְשִׁירִין בְּדִיעֲבַד,תיב שֶׁאַף שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה הִיא סְתוּמָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה אֵינָהּ סְמוּכָה כְּלָל לְפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע"168 – אֵין זֶה נֶחְשָׁב שִׁנּוּיתיג מַה שֶּׁהָרֶוַח שֶׁבֵּינָהּ לְפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" הוּא פָּתוּחַ וְלֹא סָתוּם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁסָּתוּם הָרֶוַח שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ בַּתּוֹרָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁגַּם בַּתּוֹרָה אֵין הָרֶוַח סָתוּם בְּפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ, וְיֵשׁ בֵּינָהּ לְפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה רֶוַח הַרְבֵּה פָּתוּחַ.169 מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע", אַף שֶׁאֵינָהּ סְמוּכָה בַּתּוֹרָה לְפָרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ" – אֵין זֶה מוֹעִיל כְּלָל לְשֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת פְּתוּחָה.תיד וְכֵן עִקָּר.

אֲבָל אִם אֵין לְפָנֶיהָ רֶוַח כְּלָל בֵּינָהּ לְפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע"תטו בְּאֵיזֶה שִׁיטָה מִשִּׁיטוֹת הַדַּפִּין שֶׁלָּהֶן, לֹא בַּדַּף שֶׁלָּהּ וְלֹא בַּדַּף שֶׁל פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע", דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהִתְחִיל אוֹתָהּ בְּרֹאשׁ שִׁיטָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה שֶׁבַּדַּף וְלֹא הֵנִיחַ רֶוַח כְּלָל לְפָנֶיהָ בְּאוֹתָהּ שִׁיטָה, וְלֹא בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה שֶׁל פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע", אוֹ שֶׁהֵנִיחַ רֶוַח וְאֵין בּוֹ כְּשִׁעוּר רֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה, דְּהַיְנוּ כְּדֵי לִכְתֹּב תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת – הֲרֵי זֶה נֶחְשָׁב (שִׁנּוּי גָּמוּר) מִמַּה שֶּׁהִיא כְּתוּבָה בַּתּוֹרָה, וּפְסוּלָה אֲפִלּוּ דִּיעֲבַד. אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לְפָנֶיהָ רֶוַח סָתוּם, כְּמוֹ לִפְנֵי כָּל פָּרָשָׁה סְתוּמָה שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה. אֲבָל בְּסוֹפָהּ – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ שׁוּם רֶוַח. וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין לְסַיֵּם "עַל הָאָרֶץ" בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה:תטז

51 A passage that is setumah in the Torah can appear in any of four possible forms. One of them is valid according to all opinions, and concerning three, there is a difference of opinion between Rambam and Rabbeinu Asher, each of them disqualifying the forms that the other approves.

If one completed a passage at the beginning of one line, writing at least one word of that passage at the beginning of that line, left a space [at least] nine letters wide on that line and then began the following passage on the same line, writing at least one word of the latter passage on this line, the passage which follows is considered as setumah according to all opinions.

If, however, one concluded a passage at the end of a line or within nine letters of the end of the line, and began the next passage on the following line after leaving a space of nine letters, the passage which follows is considered pesuchah by Rabbeinu Asher. Rambam, by contrast, will deem such a passage too as setumah, whether it [began] on the next line of that column or at the beginning of the next column — unless they were separated by an entire blank line, either at the foot of that column or at the beginning of the next column, as will be explained.

Similar concepts apply if one completed a passage and at its conclusion left a space of nine letters’ width at the end of that line, and did not start the next passage at the very beginning of the next line, but rather left a little space — even less than nine letters — and then started the next passage. Rambam would deem the [latter] passage as setumah. For he considers as setumah any passage that does not start at the beginning of its line when there is a space before it which is nine letters wide, whether on that line or on the previous line. [This applies] even if it starts at the head of the following column. According to Rabbeinu Asher, by contrast, as long as there is a nine-letter space, whether at the beginning of the [new] line or at the end of the [previous] line, the [second] passage is considered as pesuchah.

If one concluded a passage at the end of a line or less than nine letters’ width from the end of the line, then left one complete line blank, and started the next passage at the beginning — or within nine letters of the beginning — of the third line, the passage to follow would be considered by Rabbeinu Asher as setumah. For he considers the space of the blank line between the two passages as if it were in the middle of the [same] line [as] the two passages, thus making the latter passage setumah. According to Rambam, by contrast, [such a passage] would be considered as pesuchah, regardless of whether the end of the first passage and the beginning of the second passage are in the same column or in two separate columns and [regardless of whether] the empty line is at the end of the first column or at the beginning of the second column.

נא וּסְתוּמָה שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה – יֵשׁ לָהּ אַרְבַּע צוּרוֹת, אַחַת לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל, וְשָׁלֹשׁ נֶחְלְקוּ בָּהֶן הָרַמְבַּ"םתיז וְהָרָא"שׁ.תיח הַמַּכְשִׁיר בְּזוֹ – פּוֹסֵל בְּזוֹ, וְהַמַּכְשִׁיר בְּזוֹ – פּוֹסֵל בְּזוֹ.

דְּהַיְנוּ, שֶׁאִם סִיֵּם אֵיזֶה פָּרָשָׁה בִּתְחִלַּת אֵיזֶה שִׁיטָה וְכָתַב אֲפִלּוּ תֵּבָה אַחַת מֵאוֹתָהּ פָּרָשָׁה בְּרֹאשׁ שִׁיטָה זוֹ, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ הֵנִיחַ מָקוֹם חָלָק כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּשִׁיטָה זוֹ, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ הִתְחִיל פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ בְּשִׁיטָה זוֹ עַצְמָהּ וְכָתַב אֲפִלּוּ תֵּבָה אַחַת בְּשִׁיטָה זוֹ מִפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ – הֲרֵי פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ נִקְרֵאת סְתוּמָה לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל.תיט

אֲבָל אִם סִיֵּם אֵיזוֹ פָּרָשָׁה בְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה, אוֹ בְּפָחוֹת מִכְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת מִסּוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה, וְהֵנִיחַ חָלָק בַּשִּׁיטָה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת, וְהִתְחִיל פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ – הֲרֵי פָּרָשָׁה זוֹ שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ נִקְרֵאת פְּתוּחָה להָרָא"שׁ. אֲבָל לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם גַּם זוֹ סְתוּמָה הִיא, בֵּין שֶׁהִיא בְּשִׁיטָה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ בְּאוֹתוֹ הַדַּף, בֵּין שֶׁהִיא בְּרֹאשׁ דַּף הַשֵּׁנִי רַק שֶׁאֵין שִׁיטָה שְׁלֵמָה פְּנוּיָה בֵּינֵיהֶם לֹא בְּסוֹף דַּף הָרִאשׁוֹן וְלֹא בְּרֹאשׁ דַּף הַשֵּׁנִי, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן.

וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם סִיֵּם אֵיזֶה פָּרָשָׁה וְהֵנִיחַ חָלָק כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה זוֹ אַחַר שֶׁסִּיֵּם הַפָּרָשָׁה, וְלֹא הִתְחִיל פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ מִיָּד בְּרֹאשׁ שִׁיטָה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ, אֶלָּא הֵנִיחַ מְעַט רֶוַח אֲפִלּוּ פָּחוֹת מִכְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ הִתְחִיל פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ – הֲרֵי פָּרָשָׁה זוֹ שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ נִקְרֵאת סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם, שֶׁכָּל שֶׁאֵין הַפָּרָשָׁה מַתְחֶלֶת בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָהתכ וְיֵשׁ לְפָנֶיהָ רֶוַח כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת, בֵּין בְּאוֹתָהּ שִׁיטָה בֵּין בַּשִּׁיטָה שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ – הִיא סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם, אֲפִלּוּ הִיא בְּרֹאשׁ דַּף הַשֵּׁנִי. אֲבָל לְהָרָא"שׁ כָּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ רֶוַח בִּכְדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בֵּין בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה בֵּין בְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה – הֲרֵי הַפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ נִקְרֵאת פְּתוּחָה.

וְאִם סִיֵּם אֵיזֶה פָּרָשָׁה בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה, אוֹ בְּפָחוֹת מִכְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת מִסּוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה, וְהֵנִיחַ שִׁיטָה אַחַת שְׁלֵמָה פְּנוּיָה, וְהִתְחִיל פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ בְּרֹאשׁ שִׁיטָה שְׁלִישִׁית, אוֹ בְּפָחוֹת מִכְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת מֵרֹאשָׁהּ – לְהָרָא"שׁ נֶחְשָׁב מָקוֹם הֶחָלָק שֶׁל שִׁיטָה הַפְּנוּיָה שֶׁבֵּין הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא חָלָק בְּאֶמְצַע שִׁיטָה בֵּין שְׁתֵּי פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת, וַהֲרֵי הַפָּרָשָׁה הַשְּׁנִיָּה נִקְרֵאת סְתוּמָה. אֲבָל לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם הִיא פְּתוּחָה, בֵּין שֶׁסִּיּוּם פָּרָשָׁה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה וְהַתְחָלַת הַשְּׁנִיָּה הַכֹּל בְּדַף אֶחָד, בֵּין שֶׁהֵן בִּשְׁנֵי דַּפִּין וְהַשִּׁיטָה הַפְּנוּיָה הִיא בְּסוֹף דַּף הָרִאשׁוֹןתכא אוֹ בְּרֹאשׁ דַּף הַשֵּׁנִי:תכב

52 Now, when [writing] tefillin, it is impossible to write the passage Vehayah im shamoa in a form that all authorities will consider as setumah, because nothing else is written before it on the line on which it begins. For the passage Shema ends in its own column, and [Vehayah im shamoa begins] a new column. If one were to write it at the beginning of the line at the head of the column and leave a space of nine letters at the end of the passage Shema, all authorities will consider it as pesuchah, whereas it is setumah in the Torah.

If [on the other hand] one does not leave a space of nine letters [before it], it is certainly not [written] as it is [written] in the Torah, for if it is not preceded by a space of nine letters it is not considered a distinct passage at all.

Thus the only alternative is to write [the passage] as setumah in a manner which [conforms to the view of either Rabbeinu Asher or Rambam;170 for example,] to follow Rabbeinu Asher’s view in contrast to that of Rambam, by leaving one line blank and beginning the passage on the second line, or to write it in a manner that Rambam — but not Rabbeinu Asher — would consider setumah, i.e., not to start it at the beginning of the line, but first to leave a space of nine letters at the beginning of the line. This would render the passage as setumah according to Rambam.

Nevertheless, [when doing so,] one should be careful not to leave a space of nine letters at the end of the passage Shema.171 [When writing] a Torah scroll, if it happens that [a space] of nine letters was left at the end of a line and there is not enough additional space to write another word from the next passage on this line, it is still considered as a passage which is setumah if one leaves a small space at the beginning of the following line. For a passage which is pesuchah always starts at the beginning of a line and, according to Rambam, a passage which does not start at the beginning of the line is considered as setumah. Nevertheless, [when writing tefillin, one should not rely on this leniency].

[The rationale is that] the space at the end of the line indicates a passage which is pesuchah, since when there is no other space on the next line, the passage which follows it will be pesuchah. And if there is no space of this measure at the end of the [preceding] line, this indicates that the following passage will be setumah.

Thus with regard to tefillin, where the scribe has the option of writing the passage as he desires, he should conclude the passage Shema at the end of the line or within less than nine letters of the end of the line, to indicate that the passage which follows it is setumah. It is only with regard to a Torah scroll that we apply [the leniency of] considering a passage as setumah when [the scribe] leaves a space of nine letters at the end of the line in the preceding passage because the following passage does not start at the beginning of a line. For it is forbidden to extend or shorten the letters to [adjust] the space between passages, as stated in Yoreh Deah 273[:2].172 But if it happens that [a scribe] writing tefillin leaves a space of nine letters at the conclusion of the passage Shema, he does not have to leave a space of nine letters at the beginning of the following passage. All that is necessary is to leave a small space.

If, however, [a scribe] did not leave a space of nine letters, neither at the conclusion of the passage Shema nor at the beginning of the following passage, [the passage is invalid. This applies even when,] should one combine [the space at the end of the passage Shema and the space at the beginning of the passage Vehayah im shamoa], there would be a space totalling nine letters or more. The two cannot be combined. Thus the passage is not at all considered [even] as pesuchah,173 because there is no space of nine letters.

There is, however, a view that [the two spaces] can be combined. Thus the passage which follows would be considered as setumah according to Rambam, and perhaps also according to Rabbeinu Asher. Hence, according to this opinion, it would be initially preferable to write a passage in this manner, so as to satisfy both approaches.174

Nevertheless, one should be mindful of the first opinion and not place himself in a situation in which it is possible that one’s tefillin are invalid. For according to the first view, which holds that in this instance there is no [acceptable] passage whatever, [the tefillin] are invalid according to all opinions, even after the fact. If, by contrast, [the passage Vehayah im shamoa] is written as pesuchah, the halachah follows the view that after the fact this is acceptable.

נב וְהִנֵּה, בִּתְפִלִּין אִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת פָּרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ" שֶׁתְּהֵא סְתוּמָה לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל,תכג שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין כּוֹתְבִין לְפָנֶיהָ כְּלוּם בְּאוֹתָהּ שִׁיטָה שֶׁמַּתְחִילִין אוֹתָהּ בָּהּ, שֶׁפָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" מִסְתַּיֶּמֶת בְּדַף בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ וְהִיא בְּדַף בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ,תכד וְאִם יַתְחִיל אוֹתָהּ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה שֶׁבְּרֹאשׁ הַדַּף וְיָנִיחַ רֶוַח בְּסוֹף פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת – תִּהְיֶה פְּתוּחָה לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל, וּבַתּוֹרָה הִיא סְתוּמָה. וְאִם לֹא יָנִיחַ רֶוַח כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת – כָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁאֵינָהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא בַּתּוֹרָה,תכה שֶׁאֵינָהּ נִקְרֵאת כְּלָל פָּרָשָׁה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ כְּשֶׁאֵין כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת רֶוַח לְפָנֶיהָ.

אֶלָּא אֵין לָהּ תַּקָּנָה,170 [אֶלָּא] אוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ סְתוּמָה לְהָרָא"שׁתכו וְלֹא לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם, כְּגוֹן שֶׁיָּנִיחַ שִׁיטָה אַחַת פְּנוּיָה וְיַתְחִילֶנָּה בַּשִּׁיטָה הַשְּׁנִיָּה, אוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם וְלֹא לְהָרָא"שׁ, כְּגוֹן שֶׁלֹּא יַתְחִילֶנָּה בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה, אֶלָּא יָנִיחַ לְפָנֶיהָ רֶוַח כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה, שֶׁאָז הִיא סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם.

(יב) וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, יִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא לְהָנִיחַ רֶוַח בְּסוֹף פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע"171 כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אִם אֵרַע שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר בְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת וְאֵין שָׁם עוֹד מְעַט רֶוַח לִכְתֹּב תֵּבָה אַחַת מִפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ בְּשִׁיטָה זוֹ – אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן הִיא פָּרָשָׁה סְתוּמָה כְּשֶׁמֵּנִיחַ מְעַט רֶוַח בַּשִּׁיטָה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ,תכז שֶׁפָּרָשָׁה פְּתוּחָה הִיא לְעוֹלָם בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה,תכח וּכְשֶׁאֵינָהּ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה הִיא סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם, וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָרֶוַח שֶׁבְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה הוּא סִימָן לִפְתוּחָה,תכט שֶׁכְּשֶׁאֵין שָׁם רֶוַח אַחֵר זוּלָתוֹ בַּשִּׁיטָה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ – תִּהְיֶה הַפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ פְּתוּחָה, וּכְשֶׁאֵין רֶוַח כַּשִּׁעוּר בְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה – הִיא סִימָן שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ תִּהְיֶה סְתוּמָה, אִם כֵּן בִּתְפִלִּין שֶׁבְּיַד הַסּוֹפֵר לַעֲשׂוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה – יֵשׁ לוֹ לְסַיֵּם פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה, אוֹ בְּפָחוֹת מִכְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת מִסּוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה, כְּדֵי לְהוֹרוֹת שֶׁפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ הִיא סְתוּמָה.תל

וְלֹא אַמָרָן שֶׁאַף אִם מֵנִיחַ רֶוַח כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּסוֹף הַשִּׁיטָה – אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ סְתוּמָה כְּשֶׁאֵינָהּ מַתְחֶלֶת בְּרֹאשׁ הַשִּׁיטָה, אֶלָּא אִם אֵרַע לוֹ כֵּן בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה,תלא שֶׁאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לְהַמְשִׁיךְ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת אוֹ לְקַצֵּר בִּשְׁבִיל רֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן רעג.172 וְאִם אֵרַע לוֹ שֶׁהֵנִיחַ בַּתְּפִלִּין כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּסִיּוּם פָּרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע" – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהָנִיחַ בִּתְחִלַּת פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת, אֶלָּא מְעַט רֶוַח.

אֲבָל אִם לֹא הֵנִיחַ כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּסִיּוּם פָּרָשַׁת שְׁמַע וְלֹא בְּהַתְחָלַת פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבְּצֵרוּף שְׁנֵיהֶם יַחַד יְהֵא כְּדֵי תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת וְיוֹתֵר – אֵין מִצְטָרְפִין זֶה עִם זֶה,תלב וַהֲרֵי אֵין כָּאן (פְּתוּחָה) [פָּרָשָׁה] כְּלָל,173 כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין רֶוַח תֵּשַׁע אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד.

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתלג שֶׁמִּצְטָרְפִין זֶה עִם זֶה, וְנַעֲשָׂה עַל יְדֵי כֵּן פָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם, וְאֶפְשָׁר גַּם לְהָרָא"שׁ. וְלָכֵן יֵשׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן לְכַתְּחִלָּה, כְּדֵי לָצֵאת יְדֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם לְפִי דְּבָרָיו.174

אֲבָל יֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לַסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁלֹּא לְהַכְנִיס אֶת עַצְמוֹ לִסְפֵק תְּפִלִּין פְּסוּלִין, שֶׁהֲרֵי לְפִי סְבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, שֶׁאֵין כָּאן פָּרָשָׁהּ כְּלָל – הֵן פְּסוּלִין אַלִּיבָּא דְּכֻלֵּי עָלְמָא אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִיעֲבַד, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁעֲשָׂאָהּ פְּתוּחָה – הָעִקָּר כְּהַמַּכְשִׁירִים בְּדִיעֲבַד:

53 Since it is impossible to write [the passage Vehayah im shamoa] as setumah [in a form] that all authorities accept, it is customary in many countries to write it [in a form that would be considered] as setumah according to Rambam, for the halachah follows his approach. Even with regard to a Torah scroll, when it is impossible to write [a passage in a manner which satisfies all opinions, the approach of Rambam is followed], as stated [by Rama] in Yoreh Deah 275[:2].

Nevertheless, in these countries it is customary to write [this passage] in a form that is pesuchah like the passages which precede it, for there is a view that permits one even initially to write [this passage] as pesuchah, since in the Torah it is not located next to the passage Shema. Even though the halachah does not follow this view, since after the fact [a passage written in this manner] is valid according to all views, and it is impossible to write it as setumah in a manner that will be accepted by all authorities, the later authorities rely on this opinion so as not to negate the existing custom175 and thereby cast aspersions on [the tefillin of] past generations.

נג וְכֵיוָן שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ סְתוּמָה לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל – נוֹהֲגִין בְּהַרְבֵּה מְדִינוֹת לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ סְתוּמָה לְהָרַמְבַּ"ם,תלד לְפִי שֶׁכֵּן עִקָּר אַף בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן ערה.תלה

אֲבָל בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ נוֹהֲגִין לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ פְּתוּחָהתלו כְּמוֹ הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ, לְפִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ מִי שֶׁמַּתִּירתלז לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ פְּתוּחָה אֲפִלּוּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה, הוֹאִיל וְאֵינָהּ סְמוּכָה בַּתּוֹרָה לְפָרָשַׁת "שְׁמַע". וְאַף שֶׁאֵין דְּבָרָיו עִקָּר, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָעִקָּר הוּא שֶׁבְּדִיעֲבַד כָּשֵׁר בְּכָל עִנְיָן,תלח וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ סְתוּמָה לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל – סָמְכוּ הָאַחֲרוֹנִים עַל דְּבָרָיו שֶׁלֹּא לְבַטֵּל הַמִּנְהָג,175 כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְהוֹצִיא לַעַז עַל הָרִאשׁוֹנִים:תלט

54 All of the above applies [only] to arm-tefillin. With regard to the head-tefillin, by contrast, since its passages are written on four separate scrolls, there is no need to be concerned whether they are written as pesuchah or setumah. The custom is, however, to write [them with these laws in mind].

נד וְכָל זֶה בִּתְפִלִּין שֶׁל יָד, אֲבָל בִּתְפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ שֶׁהַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת נִכְתָּבִים עַל אַרְבָּעָה קְלָפִים – אֵין לְהַקְפִּיד בָּהֶן בִּפְתוּחוֹת וּסְתוּמוֹת. אַךְ נָהֲגוּ לְהַקְפִּיד:תמ

55 Our Sages received the tradition176 that the word totafos, by which the Torah names the head-tefillin, refers to four compartments of leather for the four passages, each in a separate compartment.

The [four] passages of the arm-tefillin, [by contrast, should be placed in] a single leather compartment. [This is implied by the verse,177] “And it shall be as a sign for you [on your arm].” [It is as if G‑d said:] “I prescribed one sign, not more than one.”

נה "טוֹטָפוֹת" שֶׁאָמְרָה תּוֹרָה בִּתְפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ,תמא קִבְּלוּ חֲכָמִיםתמב,176 שֶׁהֵן אַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים שֶׁל עוֹרתמג לְאַרְבַּע פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת, כָּל פָּרָשָׁה בְּבַיִת בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ. וְלַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל יָד – בַּיִת אֶחָד שֶׁל עוֹר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:תמד,177 "וְהָיָה לְךָ לְאוֹת "תמה – אוֹת אַחַת אָמַרְתִּי, וְלֹא יוֹתֵר:

56 The leather for the compartments,178 both for the arm-tefillin and for the head-tefillin, must be from a kosher species of domesticated animal, beast, or fowl. Even one which died without ritual slaughter or which was treifah [is acceptable], provided [the species] is “permissible [as food] in your mouth.”179

The compartments may be made of parchment, for this, too, is called leather. One authority, however, holds that the compartments should not be made of parchment unless it was first saturated in a solution made of tree bark (which is called lye), and which is used to process leather. Initially, it is advisable to respect this opinion.

[The compartments] may also be made of the hide of an animal fetus. This, too, is considered as leather in this context, although with regard to the laws of ritual impurity it is considered “meat.”180 Similarly, the [tefillin] straps may be made of parchment or the hide of an animal fetus.

According to certain authorities it is preferable to use the hide of an animal fetus, for it was never involved in a sin since it had never mated. There is also an authority who states that after the hide of an animal fetus, [the order of preference is as follows]: the skin of a fowl, the skin of a wild beast, the skin of an animal which was slaughtered in a kosher manner, and the skin of an animal that died without ritual slaughter or which was treifah.

נו וְעוֹר הַבָּתִּיםתמו,178 בֵּין שֶׁל יָד בֵּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ – צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת מִבְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וָעוֹף הַטְּהוֹרִים, אֲפִלּוּ מִנְּבֵלוֹת וּטְרֵפוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶן, רַק שֶׁהוּא מִן הַמֻּתָּר בְּפִיךָ.תמז,179

וְרַשַּׁאי לַעֲשׂוֹת הַבָּתִּים מִקְּלָף,תמח שֶׁגַּם הוּא נִקְרָא עוֹר. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתמט שֶׁאֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת בָּתִּים מִקְּלָף, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן שֶׁיָּשִׂים הַקְּלָף בְּמֵי קְלִפַּת עֵצִים (שֶׁקּוֹרִין בִּלְשׁוֹן אַשְׁכְּנַז: למ"א)תנ שֶׁמְּעַבְּדִין בָּהֶם עוֹרוֹת. וְטוֹב לָחוּשׁ לִדְבָרָיו לְכַתְּחִלָּה.תנא

וְרַשַּׁאי לַעֲשׂוֹת מֵעוֹר שְׁלִיל,תנב שֶׁגַּם הִיא נִקְרֵאת עוֹר לְעִנְיָן זֶה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא כְּבָשָׂר180 לְעִנְיָן טֻמְאָה.תנג וְכֵן הָרְצוּעוֹת יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹתָן מִקְּלָף וְעוֹר שְׁלִיל.תנד

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתנה שֶׁעוֹר שְׁלִיל הוּא יוֹתֵר הָגוּן לְמִצְוָה, כִּי לֹא נֶעֶבְדָה בּוֹ עֲבֵרָה, שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בּוֹ תַּשְׁמִישׁ שֶׁל זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה.

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתנו שֶׁאַחַר עוֹר שְׁלִיל – יוֹתֵר הָגוּן עוֹר עוֹף, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ עוֹר הַחַיָּה, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ עוֹר הַבְּהֵמָה הַכְּשֵׁרָה, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ עוֹר נְבֵלָה וּטְרֵפָה:תנז

57 The leather used for the compartments must be processed with the intent that they be used for the mitzvah,181 as is required for the parchment used for the passages.182 Some authorities, however, maintain that the two are not alike, for the holiness [of the tefillin abides] mainly in the passages, whereas the compartments are their accessories. [Hence, it is argued,] they need not be processed for the sake of the mitzvah.

The [latter] opinion may be relied upon when there is no other alternative, so that one’s observance of the mitzvah of tefillin not be suspended. [Indeed,] one may recite a blessing over such tefillin until one finds others.183

נז עוֹר הַבָּתִּיםתנח – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּהֵא מְעֻבָּד לִשְׁמוֹ,181 כְּמוֹ קְלַף הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת.תנט,182

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתס שֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לִקְלַף הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת, שֶׁהַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת הֵן עִקָּר הַקְּדֻשָּׁה,תסא אֲבָל הַבָּתִּים הֵן טְפֵלִים וּמְשַׁמְּשִׁים לָהֶם, וְאֵין צָרִיךְ עִבּוּד לִשְׁמוֹ. וְיֵשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶםתסב כְּשֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְהִתְבַּטֵּל מִמִּצְוַת תְּפִלִּין. וְיָכוֹל גַּם כֵּן לְבָרֵךְ עֲלֵיהֶןתסג עַד שֶׁיִּמְצָא אֲחֵרִים:183

58 The four compartments of the head-tefillin must be made of a single piece of leather, as implied by the verse which refers to them as “a reminder between your eyes.” [It is as if G‑d said,] “I prescribed one reminder, not two or three.”184

Pieces of leather which are sewn together are considered as a single piece of leather. (The same applies if they are attached with glue.)185 Nevertheless, it is proper and preferable to make them of actually one piece of leather;186 i.e., a piece of soft calf-hide is fitted into the hollows of a mold and left to dry. Thus, when the mold is removed, the compartments will have been formed as a natural consequence.

נח אַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים שֶׁל רֹאשׁתסד צְרִיכִים לִהְיוֹת מֵעוֹר אֶחָד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:תסה,11 "וּלְזִכָּרוֹן בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ" – זִכָּרוֹן אֶחָד אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ, וְלֹא ב' וְג' זִכְרוֹנוֹת.184 וַחֲתִיכוֹת עוֹר תְּפוּרִים יַחַד חֲשׁוּבִים כְּעוֹר אֶחָדתסו (וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם הֵם דְּבוּקִים בְּדֶבֶק).תסז,185 וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם טוֹב וְנָכוֹן לַעֲשׂוֹתָם מֵעוֹר אֶחָד מַמָּשׁ,תסח,186 שֶׁנּוֹטְלִין עוֹר עֵגֶל הָרַךְ וּמַכְנִיסִין אוֹתוֹ בַּחֲרִיצֵי הַדְּפוּס, וּמַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ כָּךְ עַד שֶׁיִּתְיַבֵּשׁ, וְנוֹטְלִין הַדְּפוּס מִתּוֹכוֹ, וְנִמְצְאוּ הַבָּתִּים עֲשׂוּיִים מֵאֲלֵיהֶם:תסט

59 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that [the cubes housing the passages of] both the arm-tefillin and the head-tefillin should be exactly square;187 i.e., their length should equal their width, so that their diagonal will be approximately two-fifths longer than their length.

As will be explained,188 the titura [which is the projecting base surrounding each of these cubes] must also be exactly square. The stitches [on all four sides] must also describe an exact square189 whose length equals its width. Moreover, the cube itself must be square; i.e., its length and width must be the same (throughout its height). Its height, however, may exceed its length and width.190

If [the tefillin] were initially square and then the measure of the square was marred in one of the above places,191 they must be corrected. If they are not corrected, they are invalid, for [the source for this requirement] is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai.192

With regard to the head-tefillin, all four compartments must together — not separately — constitute a square.193 Initially, it is preferable that all four compartments should be made the same size; one should not be wider than the other.

נט תְּפִלִּין בֵּין שֶׁל יָד בֵּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ – הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁתִּהְיֶינָה מְרֻבָּעוֹתתע,187 רִבּוּעַ מְכֻוָּן שֶׁאָרְכּוֹ כְּרָחְבּוֹ, בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁאֲלַכְסוֹנוֹ יִהְיֶה עוֹדֵף עַל אָרְכּוֹ שְׁנֵי חֻמְשֵׁי אָרְכּוֹתעא בְּקֵרוּב.תעב

וְרִבּוּעַ זֶה צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת מְכֻוָּן בָּהֶן בֵּין בִּמְקוֹם מוֹשָׁבָןתעג שֶׁהִיא הַתִּתּוֹרָא,תעד שֶׁצְּרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת מְרֻבַּעַת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר,תעה,188 בֵּין בְּתִפְרָן, שֶׁתְּהֵא הַתְּפִירָהתעו מְרֻבַּעַת מַמָּשׁ189 אָרְכָּהּ כְּרָחְבָּהּ, בֵּין בְּגוּף הַבָּתִּים,תעז שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַבַּיִת מְרֻבָּע אָרְכּוֹ כְּרָחְבּוֹ (בְּכָל מֶשֶׁךְ גָּבְהוֹ).תעח אֲבָל עַל גָּבְהוֹ אֵין לְהַקְפִּיד אִם הוּא יוֹתֵר מֵאָרְכּוֹ וְרָחְבּוֹ.תעט,190

וְאִם הָיוּ מְרֻבָּעִים, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ נִתְקַלְקֵל רִבּוּעָן בְּאֶחָד מִמְּקוֹמוֹת אֵלּוּתפ,191 – צָרִיךְ לְתַקְּנָן. וְאִם לֹא תִּקְּנָן – פְּסוּלִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁרִבּוּעָן הִיא הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי.192

וְשֶׁל רֹאשׁ יִהְיֶה כָּל הָאַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים יַחַד מְרֻבָּעִין,תפא וְלֹא כָּל אֶחָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ.193 וּלְכַתְּחִלָּה יַעֲשֶׂה כָּל הָאַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים שָׁוִין,תפב שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא אֶחָד רָחָב מֵחֲבֵרוֹ:

60 It is a mitzvah to make the leather of the compartments black,194 as the straps are. Though the halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai requires that the straps [must be black],195 whereas the compartments are not [included in this requirement], the mitzvah of tefillin requires that everything be black.

ס עוֹר הַבָּתִּים – מִצְוָה לַעֲשׂוֹתָן שָׁחֹרתפג,194 כְּמוֹ הָרְצוּעוֹת. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבָּרְצוּעוֹת הוּא הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,תפד,195 וְלֹא בָּתִּים,תפה מִכָּל מָקוֹם מִצְוַת תְּפִלִּין הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַכֹּל שָׁחֹר:תפו

61 The grooves between the compartments must each reach as far [down] as the stitches.196 [Nevertheless, the tefillin] are valid even if the grooves do not reach there, provided they are discernible above, so that it will be obvious to all that there are four [separate] compartments.197

When does the above statement [concerning validity] apply? When the internal partitions — which separate one compartment from the other and which extend downward for the full [height] of each parchment scroll — are made of the same piece of leather as the outer walls [of the tefillin]. However, if [the compartments] were not fashioned in this way, or they were initially, but the leather [partition] between passages was later torn, the [tefillin] are invalid, as will be explained in sec. 33[:1].

סא חָרִיץ שֶׁבֵּין בַּיִת לְבַיִת – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ עַד מְקוֹם הַתֶּפֶר.תפז,196 וְאִם לֹא הִגִּיעַ – כְּשֵׁרָה,תפח וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִכָּר הֶחָרִיץ לְמַעְלָה,תפט כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אַרְבָּעָה רָאשֶׁיהָ נִרְאוֹת לַכֹּל.197

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁעָשָׂה מְחִצּוֹת הַבָּתִּים מִבִּפְנִים גַּם בֵּין בַּיִת לְבַיִתתצ מִלְמַעְלָה עַד סוֹף רֹחַב הַפָּרָשָׁהתצא מֵעוֹר אֶחָדתצב עִם מְחִצּוֹת הַחִיצוֹנִים, אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשָׂה כֵּן, אוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה כֵּן וְנִקְרַע אַחַר־כָּךְ הָעוֹר שֶׁבֵּין פָּרָשָׁה לְפָרָשָׁה – פָּסוּל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן לג:תצג

Fig. 41: Before the four compartments of the head-tefillin are pressed together to form a cube, they are visibly separate down to the base.
Fig. 41: Before the four compartments of the head-tefillin are pressed together to form a cube, they are visibly separate down to the base.

62 There is no specified measure for the height of the tefillin; they may be made as large or as small as one desires. Sages and heads of Rabbinic courts customarily make their head-tefillin more than three fingerbreadths high,198 for they are worn visibly, and it is praiseworthy that they be visible, as was explained in sec. 27[:23].

[Lesser] sages and students, and [in particular,] a student in the presence of his mentor, for whom it would not be respectful to uncover his tefillin in his [mentor’s] presence, wear small tefillin, a fingerbreadth-and-a-half high, under their hats. This expression of respect indicates that they do not equate themselves to their mentors in [their] presence. [To wear tefillin as large as their teachers’] would appear as brazenness, for tefillin are an expression of glory and greatness, as indicated by the verse,199 “And all the nations of the world will see that the name of G‑d is proclaimed upon you and they will fear you” — on which our Sages comment,200 “This alludes to the head-tefillin.”

סב גֹּבַהּ הַבָּתִּים אֵין לָהֶם שִׁעוּר,תצד וְיָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹתָן גְּדוֹלִים אוֹ קְטַנִּים כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. וְהַמִּנְהָג שֶׁל הַחֲכָמִים וַאֲבוֹת בָּתֵּי דִּינִים לַעֲשׂוֹת שֶׁל רֹאשׁ גְּבוֹהִים יוֹתֵר מִשָּׁלֹשׁ אֶצְבָּעוֹת,תצה,198 כֵּיוָן שֶׁמְּנִיחִין אוֹתָן בְּגִלּוּי, וְיֵשׁ שֶׁבַח בְּגִלּוּיָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן כז.תצו

אֲבָל הַחֲכָמִים וְתַלְמִידִים, וְתַלְמִיד בִּפְנֵי רַבּוֹ שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ לְגַלּוֹת תְּפִלִּין בְּפָנָיותצז – מְנִיחִין תְּפִלִּין קְטַנּוֹת כְּאֶצְבַּע וּמֶחֱצָה תַּחַת הַמִּצְנֶפֶת, מִפְּנֵי דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ שֶׁלֹּא יַשְׁווּ אֶת עַצְמָם לְרַבּוֹתֵיהֶן בִּפְנֵיהֶם, וְנִרְאִין כְּעַזּוּת פָּנִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַתְּפִלִּין הֵם דֶּרֶךְ כָּבוֹד וּגְדֻלָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב:תצח,199 "וְרָאוּ כָּל עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ כִּי שֵׁם ה' נִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ וְיָרְאוּ מִמֶּךָ", וְדָרְשׁוּ רַזַ"ל:תצט,200 "אֵלּוּ תְּפִלִּין שֶׁבָּרֹאשׁ":

63 Similarly, there is no specified measure for the [combined] width and length of the [four] compartments [of the head-tefillin]. There is, however, a required measure for the length and width of the base: by initial preference it should be larger than a fingerbreadth at the very least.

[This is derived as follows:] Our Sages taught that201 “there is place on the head to put on two tefillin.” If it were acceptable [to use tefillin which were] a fingerbreadth [wide], there would be space [not only for two tefillin, but] for three.202

The Geonim prescribe that the initial and preferred option is that the compartments of the head-tefillin [total] two fingerbreadths by two fingerbreadths, though if smaller, they are not disqualified. The initial preference for the cube of the arm-tefillin is that it be a fingerbreadth by a fingerbreadth.203 The term “fingerbreadth,” unless otherwise qualified, always refers to [the width of] the thumb. One should be mindful of this [preference], though this is not the [popular] custom.

סג וְכֵן אֹרֶךְ וְרֹחַב הַבָּתִּים – אֵין לוֹ שִׁעוּר.תק אֲבָל אֹרֶךְ וְרֹחַב הַתִּתּוֹרָא – יֵשׁ לָהּ שִׁעוּר,תקא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לְכַתְּחִלָּה יוֹתֵר מִכְּאֶצְבַּע לְכָל הַפָּחוֹת, (יג)תקב שֶׁהֲרֵי אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים:תקג,201 "מָקוֹם יֵשׁ בָּרֹאשׁ לְהָנִיחַ שְׁנֵי תְּפִלִּין", וְאִם הָיוּ כְּשֵׁרִים בִּכְאֶצְבַּע – הָיָה מָקוֹם לְהָנִיחַ שְׁלֹשָׁה תְּפִלִּין.202

וְהַגְּאוֹנִים אָמְרוּתקד שֶׁהַבָּתִּים שֶׁל רֹאשׁ צְרִיכִים לִהְיוֹת אֶצְבָּעַיִם עַל אֶצְבָּעַיִםתקה לְכַתְּחִלָּה, וְאִם פִּחֵת – לֹא פָּסַל.תקו (יד) וּבָתִּים שֶׁל יָד אֶצְבַּע עַל אֶצְבַּעתקז,203 לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וְכָל אֶצְבַּע סְתָם הִיא גּוּדָל.תקח וְיֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לְדִבְרֵיהֶם,תקט אַף שֶׁלֹּא נָהֲגוּ כֵּן:

64 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that a protruding shin be formed from the creases in the leather of the head-tefillin on both the right and left [outer] sides [of the compartments].204

The Geonim received the tradition that the shin to the right of the person wearing [the tefillin]205 should have three heads, and the shin to his left should have four heads206 — though reversing this does not disqualify [the tefillin].

The yud-shaped heads of each of these letters shin must extend downward, reaching the base of the shin, and the point at the base of the shin should preferably reach [down] as far as [the level of] the stitches [at the base of the tefillin]. Each shin should not, however, be extended downward excessively; rather, the point at its base should preferably be visible above the [level of the] stitches.

סד שִׁי"ן שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין – הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,תקי שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בְּעוֹר הַבָּתִּים שֶׁל רֹאשׁ כְּמִין שִׁי"ן בּוֹלֶטֶת מִקִּמְטֵי הָעוֹר,תקיא אֶחָד מִימִינוֹ וְאֶחָד מִשְּׂמֹאלוֹ.204 וְקִבְּלוּ הַגְּאוֹנִיםתקיב שֶׁהַשִּׁי"ן שֶׁל יְמִין הַמֵּנִיחַתקיג,205 תִּהְיֶה שֶׁל שְׁלֹשָׁה רָאשִׁים, וְשֶׁל שְׂמֹאל הַמֵּנִיחַ שֶׁל אַרְבָּעָה רָאשִׁים,206 וְאִם הָפַךְ – לֹא פָּסַל.תקיד והַיּוּ"דִין שֶׁל הַשִּׁי"נִין,תקטו בֵּין בְּשֶׁל שְׁלֹשָׁה רָאשִׁים בֵּין בְּשֶׁל אַרְבָּעָה רָאשִׁיםתקטז – צְרִיכִים לִגַּע לְמַטָּה בְּשׁוּלֵי הַשִּׁי"נִין. וְחֻדָּן שֶׁל שׁוּלֵי הַשִּׁי"נִין – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ עַד מְקוֹם הַתֶּפֶרתקיז לְכַתְּחִלָּה,תקיח וְלֹא יַמְשִׁיךְ הַשִּׁי"נִין הַרְבֵּה,תקיט אֶלָּא שֶׁגַּם חֻדָּן שֶׁל שׁוּלֵיהֶן יִהְיֶה נִרְאֶה עַל הַתֶּפֶר לְכַתְּחִלָּה:

65 Some authorities hold that the protruding shin must result [directly] from the creases of the leather.207 [These authorities argue that] if the letter [protruding from the leather] resulted [not only from an internal convex mold but in addition] from [the reciprocal pressure of] a [concave] mold [outside the compartment], the obligation would not be fulfilled, because this process resembles chak tochos.208 It is true that the shin-shaped protrusions on the [internal] mold press the leather outward and engrave their form upon it, and thus it is the [protruding] body of the letter that is being engraved, and not [the depressed intervening spaces of] its interior. Nevertheless, the leather is soft and is also pressed around the shin-shaped protrusion on the [internal] mold by the [external] mold in which the concave shin is engraved. [The notched surface of the external mold] thus stamps the depressed spaces of the shin into the leather. Hence, [it is argued,] this [bi-directional process] constitutes an instance of chak tochos.209

Other authorities, however, maintain that the factor of chak tochos need not be considered with regard to this shin. [They argue that] chak tochos is a disqualifying factor only with regard to [writing] the passages of tefillin and mezuzos, and similarly with regard to a Torah scroll and a bill of divorce, for [in these cases] the Torah explicitly specifies “writing” — and this excludes engraving.210 By contrast, the halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai concerning this shin does not specify “writing.”

And indeed, the common practice211 is to imprint this shin using [two] mold[s]. Nevertheless, it is advisable to respect the first view.

סה יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקכ שֶׁהַשִּׁי"נִין צְרִיכִים לִהְיוֹת מִקִּמְטֵי הָעוֹר,207 וְאִם עֲשָׂאָן בִּדְפוּס – לֹא יָצָא, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּחַק תּוֹכוֹת,208 שֶׁאַף שֶׁהַשִּׁי"נִין הַבּוֹלְטוֹת בִּדְפוּס דּוֹחֲקוֹת הָעוֹר וְחוֹקְקוֹת בּוֹ צוּרָתָהּ, וַהֲרֵי זֶה חֲקִיקַת גּוּף הָאוֹתִיּוֹת וְלֹא תּוֹכָהּ, מִכָּל מָקוֹם הָעוֹר שֶׁהוּא רַךְ נִדְחָק גַּם סְבִיבַת בְּלִיטַת הַשִּׁי"ן שֶׁבַּדְּפוּס, עַל יְדֵי דְּפוּס הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁגּוּף הַשִּׁי"ן שׁוֹקֵעַ בּוֹ וְתוֹכוֹתֶיהָ בּוֹלְטִין בּוֹ וְדוֹחֲקִין תּוֹכוֹת הַשִּׁי"ן בָּעוֹר, וַהֲרֵי זֶה חַק תּוֹכוֹת.תקכא,209

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקכב שֶׁאֵין לָחוּשׁ בְּשִׁי"ן זוֹ לְחַק תּוֹכוֹת, שֶׁלֹּא פָּסְלוּ חַק תּוֹכוֹת אֶלָּא בְּפָרָשִׁיּוֹתתקכג שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין וּמְזוּזוֹת, וְכֵן בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וּבְגֵט, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בָּהֶן כְּתִיבָהתקכד בַּתּוֹרָה, כְּתִיבָה – וְלֹא חֲקִיקָה,תקכה,210 אֲבָל בְּשִׁי"ן זוֹ לֹא נֶאֱמַר בַּהֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי כְּתִיבָה בָּהּ. וְכֵן הַמִּנְהָג211 פָּשׁוּט לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ בִּדְפוּס.תקכו וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן טוֹב לָחוּשׁ לַסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה:תקכז

Fig. 42: The letter shin in this diagram is shaped according to Ksav HaAriZal (“the script of R. Yitzchak Luria”).
Fig. 42: The letter shin in this diagram is shaped according to Ksav HaAriZal (“the script of R. Yitzchak Luria”).

66 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that the arm-tefillin and the head-tefillin each have a titura [or “base”].212 Titura is Aramaic for “bridge,” implying that there be a leather pad at the base [of the tefillin] to cover the opening of the compartments. It thus appears like the plank of a bridge.

Similarly, it is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that the arm-tefillin and the head-tefillin each have a maabarta [or “passageway”];213 i.e., the leather of the titura should extend and project at one side. This projection should be of two layers, allowing the strap to pass through it, hence the name “passageway.”214

Since it is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that the titura at the base of the tefillin should be exactly square,215 the maabarta must be cut [as a marginal indent] at both sides (at the point at which the square of the titura ends) so that the maabarta will not be as wide (at that place) as the titura. In this way, the square shape of the titura will be distinct.

סו תִּתּוֹרָא שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין – הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,תקכח,212 בֵּין בְּשֶׁל יָד בֵּין בְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁ, תִּתּוֹרָא הוּא גֶּשֶׁרתקכט בְּלָשׁוֹן אֲרַמִּי, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁיָּשִׂים עוֹר לְמַטָּה לְכַסּוֹת פִּי הַבָּתִּים, וְנִרְאֶה כְּעֵין דַּף שֶׁל גֶּשֶׁר.

וְכֵן מַעְבַּרְתָּא שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין – הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,תקל,213 בֵּין בְּשֶׁל יָד בֵּין בְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁ, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁעוֹר הַתִּתּוֹרָא יִהְיֶה אָרֹךְ וּבוֹלֵט מִצַּד אֶחָד, וְהַבְּלִיטָה תִּהְיֶה כְּפוּלָה לַעֲבֹר הָרְצוּעָה בְּתוֹכָהּ, וְעַל כֵּן נִקְרָא בְּלִיטָה זוֹ מַעְבַּרְתָּא.תקלא,214

וּלְפִי שֶׁהֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁמְּקוֹם מוֹשַׁב הַתְּפִלִּין דְּהַיְנוּ הַתִּתּוֹרָא יִהְיֶה מְרֻבָּע מַמָּשׁ,תקלב,215 לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לַחְתֹּךְ הַמַעְבַּרְתָּא מִשְּׁנֵי צְדָדִין (בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁמִּסְתַּיֵּם רִבּוּעַ הַתִּתּוֹרָא), שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא הַמַעְבַּרְתָּא רְחָבָה (שָׁם) כְּמוֹ רֹחַב הַתִּתּוֹרָא, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִכָּר רִבּוּעַ הַתִּתּוֹרָא:תקלג

Fig. 43: In order to maintain the square shape of the base (titura) of the tefillin, a quarter-circle indent is cut away at both sides of the passageway (maabarta) which projects from the base.
Fig. 43: In order to maintain the square shape of the base (titura) of the tefillin, a quarter-circle indent is cut away at both sides of the passageway (maabarta) which projects from the base.

67 Before each parchment scroll is inserted in its compartment it must be rolled up, starting from the end, just as a mezuzah is rolled from the word echad towards the word Shema,216 and not in the opposite direction, for the reason explained in Yoreh Deah 288.217

סז צָרִיךְ לִגְלֹל כָּל פָּרָשָׁה מִסּוֹפָהּ לִתְחִלָּתָהּתקלד כְּשֶׁנּוֹתְנָהּ בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתָהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּזוּזָה נִגְלֶלֶת מֵ"אֶחָד" כְּלַפֵּי "שְׁמַע",תקלה,216 וְלֹא לְהִפּוּךְ, מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן רפח:תקלו,217

68 Some authorities hold that it is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that [a strip of] cloth or parchment be bound around [each of] the passages218 [before it is placed in its compartment],219 and that otherwise they are invalid. Other authorities differ.

As an initial preference, it is customary to bind [a strip of] parchment around [each scroll]. If this was not done, the [tefillin] are nevertheless valid after the fact if no others are available.

Some people make a point of binding [the scrolls] only with parchment [of a kind] that would be valid for making the compartments or the straps. [The rationale is that] since binding this [strip of parchment] is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai, the laws governing it are identical with those governing the compartments and the straps. Hence, it must derive from a species [of animal] which is permissible as food,220 and not from a forbidden species. If a cloth [is used], however, [this] restriction does not apply and is thus not an issue for concern.221

סח יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקלז שֶׁהֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי לִכְרֹךְ אֶת הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת218 בְּמַטְלִית אוֹ בִּקְלָף,תקלח,219 וְאִם לֹא כְּרָכָן – פְּסוּלִין.תקלט וְיֵשׁ חוֹלְקִין.תקמ

וְנָהֲגוּ לְכָרְכָן בִּקְלָף לְכַתְּחִלָּה,תקמא אֲבָל אִם לֹא כְּרָכָן – כְּשֵׁרוֹת בְּדִיעֲבַד, אִם אֵין לוֹ אֲחֵרִים.תקמב

וְיֵשׁ מַקְפִּידִין מִלְּכָרְכָן אֶלָּא בִּקְלָף הַכָּשֵׁר לְבָתִּים וּרְצוּעוֹת,תקמג שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁכְּרִיכָה זוֹ הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי – דִּינָהּ כְּבָתִּים וּרְצוּעוֹת שֶׁצְּרִיכִים לִהְיוֹת מִמִּין הַמֻּתָּר לְפִיךָ,תקמד,220 וְלֹא מִמִּין הָאָסוּר. אֲבָל בְּמַטְלִית שֶׁלֹּא שַׁיָּךְ בָּהּ אִסּוּר – אֵין לְהַקְפִּיד בָּהּ:תקמה,221

Fig. 44: An additional square of leather is usually glued to the upper part of the base.
Fig. 44: An additional square of leather is usually glued to the upper part of the base.

69 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that strands of hair from a kosher animal or beast be wound around each [scroll; this is done before it is inserted in its compartment].222 Some authorities hold that the hair should be wound around the [scroll] itself and the [strip of] parchment should then be bound around it. Others hold that first the [strip of] parchment should be bound around the [scroll] and then the hair should be wound around the parchment.

The prevailing custom is to satisfy both opinions. First the hair is wound around the [scroll], then [a strip of] kosher parchment is bound around it, and then the hair is wound around [the parchment].223

The hair of a calf is customarily used,224 so that one recall the sin of the [Golden] Calf and not transgress. If a calf’s hair is not available, the hair of a cow or an ox should be used. The hair should first be washed thoroughly clean.

The Sages of the Zohar225 caution that these hairs should protrude from the compartments of the head-tefillin, though [no more] than the length of a grain of barley. Some sources state that they should protrude from [the compartment containing] the passage Kadesh, while others state that they should protrude from [the compartment containing] the passage Vehayah im shamoa.226 It is preferable that they protrude from the side [of the compartment containing] the passage Vehayah im shamoa that is [closer] to [the compartment containing] the passage Kadesh.

סט הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁיִּכְרֹךְ עַל הַפָּרָשָׁה שְׂעַר בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה הַטְּהוֹרִים.תקמו,222 יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקמז שֶׁיִּכְרֹךְ הַשֵּׂעָר עַל גּוּף הַפָּרָשָׁה, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ יִכְרֹךְ הַקְּלָף לְמַעְלָה. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקמח שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה יִכְרֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם הַקְּלָף, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ הַשֵּׂעָר עַל גַּבֵּי הַקְּלָף.

וְנוֹהֲגִין לָצֵאת יְדֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם,תקמט שֶׁכּוֹרְכִין שֵׂעָר עַל הַפָּרָשָׁה וְאַחַר־כָּךְ כּוֹרְכִין עָלָיו קְלָף כָּשֵׁר, וְחוֹזְרִין וְכוֹרְכִין עָלָיו שֵׂעָר.223

וְנָהֲגוּ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שֵׂעָר זֶה שֶׁל עֵגֶל,תקנ,224 כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּזְכֹּר מַעֲשֵׂה הָעֵגֶל וְלֹא יֶחֱטָא.תקנא וְאִם לֹא מָצָא שֶׁל עֵגֶל – כּוֹרֵךְ בְּשֶׁל פָּרָה אוֹ בְּשֶׁל שׁוֹר, וְרוֹחֵץ הַשֵּׂעָר הֵיטֵב בַּתְּחִלָּה עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נָקִי.תקנב

וְחַכְמֵי הַזֹּהַר225 הִזְהִירוּ וְאָמְרוּתקנג שֶׁיִּהְיֶה קְצָת שֵׂעָר זֶה יוֹצֵא חוּץ לַבָּתִּים שֶׁל רֹאשׁ פָּחוֹת מֵאֹרֶךְ שְׂעוֹרָה.

יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקנד שֶׁהַשֵּׂעָר הַיּוֹצֵא יִהְיֶה מִפָּרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ", וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים מִפָּרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ",226 וְטוֹב שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִפָּרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ" בְּצַד הַפּוֹנֶה לְפָרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ":תקנה

Fig. 45: One of the four scrolls of the head-tefillin is prepared for insertion. (See footnote 223.)
Fig. 45: One of the four scrolls of the head-tefillin is prepared for insertion. (See footnote 223.)

Fig. 46: The long scroll of the arm-tefillin is prepared for insertion. (See footnote 223.)
Fig. 46: The long scroll of the arm-tefillin is prepared for insertion. (See footnote 223.)

70 The initial and preferred option is that each of the inscribed scrolls be inserted vertically in its compartment, as a Torah scroll stands in the ark. If the scrolls were laid in the compartments horizontally, the [tefillin] are nevertheless valid.

Care should be taken not to place the passages in the compartments upside down.227 Instead, the first line of the passage should be at the top of the compartment and the bottom line should be near the lower, open end of the compartment.

Initially, one should ensure that the beginning of each passage is oriented towards the side [of the compartment] to the right of a [hypothetical] reader228 who is facing the person wearing [the tefillin]. If [such a person] would open them and read the passages, they would be set out before him in their required order. [This is significant,] for we find that the order in which [the passages] are placed in their compartments is determined by their respective positions to the right of the reader, so that he can [hypothetically] read them in order: first the passage Kadesh to his right, then the passage Vehayah [ki yeviacha], and the other passages to his left, as will be stated in sec. 34[:1].

ע כָּל פָּרָשָׁה צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת זְקוּפָה מְעֻמָּד בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתָהּתקנו לְכַתְּחִלָּה, כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁמַּעֲמִידִין סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בַּהֵיכָל. וְאִם נְתָנָהּ שָׁם מֻשְׁכֶּבֶת – כְּשֵׁרָה.תקנז

(טו) וְצָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵרתקנח שֶׁלֹּא לַהֲפֹךְ הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת בַּבָּתִּים,227 אֶלָּא יְנִיחֵם שָׁם בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁשִּׁיטָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה תִּהְיֶה לְמַעְלָה בְּרֹאשׁ הַבָּתִּים וְשִׁיטָה הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה לְמַטָּה לְצַד פֶּה הַבָּתִּים.

וּלְכַתְּחִלָּה יֵשׁ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁרֹאשׁ הַפָּרָשָׁה יִהְיֶה מֻנָּח לְצַד יְמִין הַקּוֹרֵאתקנט,228 שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד נֶגֶד הַמֵּנִיחַ, שֶׁאִם בָּא לְפָתְחָן וּלְקָרְאָן יִהְיוּ מֻנָּחִין לְפָנָיו כְּהִלְכָתָן, שֶׁהֲרֵי מָצִינוּ שֶׁסֵּדֶר הֲנָחָתָן בַּבָּתִּים הֵן מְסֻדָּרִים לְפִי יְמִין הַקּוֹרֵא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה קוֹרֵא כַּסֵּדֶר, מִתְּחִלָּה פָּרָשַׁת "קַדֶּשׁ" שֶׁל יְמִינוֹ וְאַחַר־כָּךְ פָּרָשַׁת "וְהָיָה" וּשְׁאָר הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל שְׂמֹאלוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן לד:תקס

71 If all four passages [for the head-tefillin] were written on a single piece of parchment, they are valid, even if no space was left between them — provided they are placed in four [separate] compartments, each one lying [horizontally] in its compartment. [However,] a thread or cord must be placed between the adjoining compartments, to separate them from each other.

Some authorities maintain that [the Sages] require this distinction only if all four passages are written on a single piece of parchment, whereas if they are written on four separate pieces of parchment as dictated by law, there is no need whatsoever for a thread or cord. Others, however, maintain that even if [the passages] are written on four separate pieces of parchment, a thread or a cord must [separate] one compartment from the other.229 This indeed is the common practice: by initial preference, the thread used to stitch [and close the head-tefillin] is [first] passed between the adjoining compartments. If, however, this is not done, [the tefillin] are nevertheless valid, for the halachah rules according to the former view.

עא אִם כָּתַב כָּל הָאַרְבַּע פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת בִּקְלָף אֶחָד – כְּשֵׁרוֹת,תקסא אֲפִלּוּ אֵין רֶוַח בֵּינֵיהֶם, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיִּתְּנֵן בְּאַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים,תקסב כָּל אַחַת מֻשְׁכֶּבֶת בְּבֵיתָהּ.תקסג וְצָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּתֵּן חוּט אוֹ מְשִׁיחָה בֵּין כָּל בַּיִת לְבַיִת,תקסד לְהַבְדִּילָהּ זֶה מִזֶּה.תקסה

יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקסו שֶׁלֹּא הִצְרִיכוּ הַבְדָּלָה זוֹ אֶלָּא דַּוְקָא כְּשֶׁכָּל הָאַרְבַּע פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת נִכְתָּבוֹת עַל קְלָף אֶחָד, אֲבָל אִם הֵן כְּתוּבוֹת עַל אַרְבָּעָה קְלָפִים כְּהִלְכָתָן – אֵין צָרִיךְ חוּט אוֹ מְשִׁיחָה כְּלָל.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקסז שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ הֵן כְּתוּבוֹת עַל אַרְבָּעָה קְלָפִים – צָרִיךְ לְהַעֲבִיר חוּט אוֹ מְשִׁיחָה בֵּין כָּל בַּיִת לְבַיִת.229

וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין לְהַעֲבִיר חוּט הַתְּפִירָהתקסח בֵּין כָּל בַּיִת לְבַיִתתקסט לְכַתְּחִלָּה, אֲבָל אִם לֹא הֶעֱבִיר – כָּשֵׁר,תקע שֶׁהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה:

Fig. 47: The sinew that separates the compartments of the head-tefillin is threaded through the upper part of its base both horizontally and vertically. (See footnote 229.)
Fig. 47: The sinew that separates the compartments of the head-tefillin is threaded through the upper part of its base both horizontally and vertically. (See footnote 229.)

72 The laws which apply to [the passages of] the head-tefillin — that each of the scrolls should be bound around with hair and [a strip of] parchment, that they should each be rolled from end to beginning, and that they should be placed vertically in their compartments — also apply to the passages of the arm-tefillin, except that by initial preference [all four passages of the arm-tefillin] should be written on a single piece of parchment, for the reason stated above.230

If a [scribe] wrote [the passages for the arm-tefillin] on four separate pieces of parchment and placed them in four separate compartments, like the head-tefillin, he has fulfilled his obligation,231 provided he drapes a piece of leather over them so that they appear as one compartment. For [the arm-tefillin] must appear as one “sign” from the outside, as stated above.232

Needless to say, if a [scribe] wrote [the passages for the arm-tefillin] on four separate pieces of parchment and placed them in one compartment, he has fulfilled his obligation. There is no need to glue the pieces of parchment together. Nevertheless, the custom is to glue them together, care being taken to use kosher glue, i.e., glue made from a kosher animal, [from a species whose flesh] is permissible as food.233

עב פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל יָד דִּינָן כְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁתקעא לִכְרִיכַת שֵׂעָר וּקְלָף, וּלְגָלְלָן מִסּוֹפָן לִתְחִלָּתָן, וּלְהַכְנִיסָן לְבֵיתָן זְקוּפוֹת, אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לְכָתְבָן עַל קְלָף אֶחָד מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.תקעב,230 וְאִם כְּתָבָן עַל אַרְבָּעָה קְלָפִים וְהִנִּיחָן בְּאַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים כְּמוֹ שֶׁל רֹאשׁ – יָצָא.תקעג,231 וְהוּא שֶׁשָּׁטַח עוֹר עַל הָאַרְבָּעָה בָּתִּים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִרְאִים כְּבַיִת אֶחָד, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אוֹת אַחַת מִבַּחוּץ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.תקעד,232 וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם כְּתָבָן עַל אַרְבָּעָה קְלָפִים וְהִנִּיחָן בְּבַיִת אֶחָד שֶׁיָּצָא, וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְדַבֵּק הַקְּלָפִים יַחַד. וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן הַמִּנְהָג לְדַבְּקָן בְּדֶבֶק.תקעה וְנִזְהָרִין לִטֹּל דֶּבֶק כָּשֵׁר,תקעו דְּהַיְנוּ מִבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מִמִּין הַמֻּתָּר בְּפִיךָ:תקעז,233

73 If the compartments were coated with gold, or with leather that may not be used for making compartments, e.g., leather from a non-kosher species [of animal], [the tefillin] are invalid.234

עג אִם צִפָּה הַבָּתִּים בְּזָהָב, אוֹ בְּעוֹר שֶׁאֵינוֹ כָּשֵׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ בָּתִּים, כְּגוֹן שֶׁל בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה – הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִים:תקעח,234

74 It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that the tefillin be [closed by being] stitched with sinews from a kosher species of animal or beast.235

([It is customary] to take white sinews from the heel236 of an animal or beast. If they are stiff, they should be softened with stones until they resemble [threads of] flax, and then they are twined and spun.)

A certain scholar cites a tradition he received from the Geonim that, as an initial preference, it is a mitzvah to stitch [tefillin] with the sinews of an ox. It is advisable to defer to this view.

עד הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַתְּפִלִּין נִתְפָּרִין בְּגִידֵי בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה הַטְּהוֹרִיםתקעט,235 (לוֹקְחִים הַגִּידִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ בַּעֲקֵב236 בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה שֶׁהֵן גִּידִים לְבָנִים,תקפ וְאִם הֵם קָשִׁים – מְרַכְּכָן בַּאֲבָנִים עַד שֶׁיְּהֵא עָשׂוּי כְּפִשְׁתָּן, וְטוֹוִין וְשׁוֹזְרִין אוֹתָן).

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתקפא שֶׁקַּבָּלָה בְּיָדוֹ מִן הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁמִּצְוָה לִתְפֹּר בְּגִידֵי שׁוֹר – לְכַתְּחִלָּה.תקפב וְטוֹב לָחוּשׁ לִדְבָרָיו:תקפג

75 One should not go to non-Jew premises to purchase sinews if it is known that some [gentiles] take them from non-kosher species [of animal], even though most take them from kosher species.

[The rationale is that] since the [purchaser] is going to the non-Jew while the latter is in residence at home, [the non-Jew is considered kavua — “in a fixed position.” [In such an instance] we do not follow the majority, because of the principle that “whenever something is kavua, its status is considered as half and half.”237

If, however, a non-Jew brings [sinews] to the market [to sell], it is permitted to purchase [them] from him. [The rationale is that] since he has left the place where he is “in a fixed position,” we follow the principle that “whenever an item has been separated [from its accustomed place], we assume that it is one of the majority that has left its place.”238

If it is not known that some gentiles take sinews from a non-kosher species [of animal], it is permitted to purchase them in all instances. The reason: Most of the animals whose meat is eaten239 are of a kosher species, and sinews are not taken from a species which is not eaten, for a non-Jew will certainly not kill his animal for the sake of its sinews.

The above applies to sinews which were not spun. If the sinews have been spun, it is forbidden to purchase them from [gentiles] in all instances, for since [the sinews] are required by a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai, they must be processed [lit., “made”] for the sake of the mitzvah. To cite a parallel: The blackening of [tefillin] straps must be done for the sake of the mitzvah, because it is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that [the straps be] black, as stated in sec. 33[:4-5]. The sinews are “made” by spinning, which must therefore be done for the sake of the mitzvah. (To cite [another] parallel: The threads for tzitzis are “made” by spinning, which must therefore be done for the sake of the mitzvah.)240 [Hence the sinews may not be spun by] gentiles, for they will not perform an activity for the sake of a mitzvah.

עה אֵין לֵילֵךְ לְבָתֵּי הַנָּכְרִים לִקְנוֹת מֵהֶם גִּידִים,תקפד אִם יָדוּעַ שֶׁמִּקְצָתָן נוֹטְלִין אוֹתָן מִבְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה,תקפה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָרֹב נוֹטְלִין מִבְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה, לְפִי שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא הוֹלֵךְ אֵצֶל נָכְרִי בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהֵם קְבוּעִין בְּבָתֵּיהֶן – אֵין הוֹלְכִין בָּזֶה אַחַר הָרֹב, שֶׁכָּל הַקָּבוּעַ כְּמֶחֱצָה עַל מֶחֱצָה.תקפו,237

אֲבָל אִם הַנָּכְרִי הֵבִיא לַשּׁוּק מֻתָּר לִקְנוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ מִמְּקוֹם קְבִיעוּתוֹ – אָנוּ אוֹמְרִים כָּל הַפּוֹרֵשׁ מִן הָרֹב הוּא פּוֹרֵשׁ.238

וְאִם אֵין יָדוּעַ שֶׁמִּקְצָתָן נוֹטְלִין אוֹתָן מִבְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה – מֻתָּר לִקְנוֹת מֵהֶם בְּכָל עִנְיָן, שֶׁרֹב בְּהֵמוֹת הַנֶּאֱכָלִים239 הֵם טְהוֹרִים, וּמֵאוֹתָן שֶׁאֵינָן נֶאֱכָלִין אֵין נוֹטְלִין מֵהֶם גִּידִים, שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי אֵין הַנָּכְרִי נוֹחֵר בְּהֶמְתּוֹ בִּשְׁבִיל גִּידֶיהָ.

וְכָל זֶה בְּגִידִים שֶׁאֵינָן טְווּיִין, אֲבָל גִּידִים טְווּיִין – אָסוּר לִקְנוֹת מֵהֶם בְּכָל עִנְיָן, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי הֵן – צָרִיךְ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה עֲשִׂיָּתָן לִשְׁמָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת הָרְצוּעוֹת שְׁחֹרוֹת לִשְׁמָן, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַשְׁחָרָתָן הִיא הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן לג.תקפז וּטְוִיַּת הַגִּידִים – זוֹ הִיא עֲשִׂיָּתָן, וְצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לִשְׁמָהּ (כְּמוֹ שֶׁחוּטֵי הַצִּיצִית, טְוִיָּתָן – זוֹ הִיא עֲשִׂיָּתָן, וְצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לִשְׁמָהּ),תקפח,240 וְנָכְרִים לָאו בְּנֵי לִשְׁמָהּ הֵן:תקפט

76 There is an authority who maintains that strings made of parchment are considered equivalent to sinews and are valid for use in stitching Torah scrolls and tefillin. In places where there are no sinews at hand one may rely on this view and [close tefillin] by stitching with these strings until sinews become available, so that one’s observance of the mitzvah of tefillin not be suspended.

עו יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתקצ שֶׁחוּטִין הַנַּעֲשִׂין מִן הַקְּלָף הֵן כְּגִידִים עַצְמָן, וּכְשֵׁרִין לִתְפֹּר בָּהֶן סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וּתְפִלִּין. וְיֵשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל דְּבָרָיותקצא בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין גִּידִים מְצוּיִים לִתְפֹּר בְּחוּטִין אֵלּוּ עַד שֶׁיִּזְדַּמְּנוּ לָהֶם גִּידִים, שֶׁלֹּא לְהִתְבַּטֵּל מִמִּצְוַת תְּפִלִּין:

77 There is a tradition received by the Geonim that one should sew [and close the tefillin with] twelve stitches as an allusion to the Twelve Tribes, three stitches on each side [of the compartment]. With every single stitch, the thread must pass over both [the top and the bottom of the base].241 If one made fewer than twelve stitches or more than twelve, [the tefillin] are not disqualified.

The stitching need not be within the actual compartment[s]; [it is sufficient that it be] close to the compartment[s]. Nevertheless, the leather [extending beyond the lower edge] of the compartment must be spread outward and be sandwiched between both layers of the base, [at least] as far outward as the stitching, so that the stitches also penetrate the leather extending from the compartment (which is considered part of the actual compartment).242 Thus the body of the actual compartment is stitched into the base.

If this is not done, [the tefillin] are invalid, for it is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that tefillin be [closed by being] stitched,243 and it is the compartments that are considered the tefillin [proper], not the base. This is also why the actual compartments must be made square, not only the base, for the Sages taught: It is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai that tefillin must be square,244 and it is the compartments that are referred to as the tefillin [proper], whereas the base is called the base of the tefillin.

עז קַבָּלָה בְּיַד הַגְּאוֹנִיםתקצב לִתְפֹּר שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה תְּפִירוֹת כְּנֶגֶד שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׁבָטִים, שָׁלֹשׁ תְּפִירוֹת בְּכָל צַד. וְחוּט הַתְּפִירָה יִהְיֶה סוֹבֵב מִשְׁתֵּי רוּחוֹת בְּכָל תְּפִירָה וּתְפִירָה.תקצג,241 וְאִם פִּחֵת מִשְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה תְּפִירוֹת, אוֹ הוֹסִיף – לֹא פָּסַל.תקצד וְאֵין צָרִיךְ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הַתְּפִירָה בְּתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת אֶלָּא סָמוּךְ לַבַּיִת.תקצה

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה עוֹר הַבַּיִת מִתְפַּשֵּׁט וְנִכְפָּל בֵּין שְׁנֵי הַכְּפָלִים שֶׁל הַתִּתּוֹרָא בִּמְקוֹם הַתְּפִירָה,תקצו כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הַתְּפִירָה גַּם בְּעוֹר הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט מֵהַבַּיִת (שֶׁהוּא נֶחְשָׁב מִגּוּף הַבַּיִת),242 וְנִמְצָא גּוּף הַבַּיִת תָּפוּר בַּתִּתּוֹרָא. וְאִם לָאו – פָּסוּל,תקצז שֶׁהֲרֵי הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁתְּפִלִּין יִהְיוּ תְּפוּרִין,תקצח,243 וְהַבָּתִּים הֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים תְּפִלִּין וְלֹא הַתִּתּוֹרָא,תקצט שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי זֶה צָרִיךְ לְרַבֵּעַ גַּם גּוּף הַבָּתִּים,תר וְלֹא דַּי בְּרִבּוּעַ הַתִּתּוֹרָא, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאָמְרוּ:תרא תְּפִלִּין מְרֻבָּעוֹת הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,244 וְהַבָּתִּים הֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים תְּפִלִּין, וְהַתִּתּוֹרָא נִקְרֵאת – תִּתּוֹרָא שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין:

Fig. 48: Stitching the head-tefillin closed. (See footnote 241.)
Fig. 48: Stitching the head-tefillin closed. (See footnote 241.)

78 There are those who are stringent and remove the thread used [to close the tefillin by] stitching if it snaps in the middle. They remove it entirely and stitch [the tefillin] anew with another thread.245 [The rationale is that] since it snapped in the midst of the sewing, it is surely not strong and will ultimately snap — and [such a thread] is considered as if it has snapped already, as if it does not exist.

If, however, the thread was short at the outset and did not snap, the sewing may be resumed with another thread. It is not necessary that a single thread be used for all the stitches.

עח יֵשׁ מַחְמִירִיןתרב שֶׁאִם נִפְסַק חוּט הַתְּפִירָה בְּאֶמְצַע הַתְּפִירָה – יִטְּלֶנּוּ כֻּלּוֹ מִשָּׁם וְיַחֲזֹר וְיִתְפֹּר מֵחָדָשׁ בְּחוּט אַחֵר,245 שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּפְסַק בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִירָה – בְּוַדַּאי אֵינוֹ חָזָק וְסוֹפוֹ לִפָּסֵק, וְכָל הָעוֹמֵד לִפָּסֵק – כְּפָסוּק הוּא,תרג וְאֵינוֹ כְּלוּם. אֲבָל אִם הַחוּט קָצָר מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ וְלֹא נִפְסַק – יָכוֹל לִגְמֹר בְּחוּט אַחֵר, וְאֵין צָרִיךְ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה כָּל הַתְּפִירָה בְּחוּט אֶחָד:

79 The knot with which tefillin are tied is a halachah transmitted to Moshe at Sinai.246 After inserting the straps in the passageway, one should tie a knot which resembles a dalet for the head-tefillin and one which resembles a yud for the arm-tefillin. This — together with the shin [on the compartment] of the head-tefillin — completes the letters shin-dalet-yud, [spelling out] the name of G‑d.247

It is advisable to make a point of completing the letters of the Divine name in the correct order, i.e., that the shin should be made first, then the knot of the head-tefillin should be made, and then the knot of the arm-tefillin in the order of the letters of [this Divine] name.

The knot of the head-tefillin need appear as a dalet only from the outside; it does not also need to appear thus on the underside that faces the head. There are those, however, who follow the custom of making it appear as a dalet from both sides.248

עט קֶשֶׁר שֶׁל תְּפִלִּין – הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי,תרד,246 שֶׁלְּאַחַר שֶׁהִכְנִיס הָרְצוּעָה לְתוֹךְ הַמַעְבַּרְתָּא – יַעֲשֶׂה קֶשֶׁר כְּמִין דָּלֶי"ת בְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁ וּכְמִין יוּ"ד בְּשֶׁל יָד,תרה לְהַשְׁלִים אוֹתִיּוֹת שַׁדַּ"י247 עִם הַשִּׁי"ן שֶׁבְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁ.

וְטוֹב לִזָּהֵר לְהַשְׁלִים הַשֵּׁם כְּסִדְרוֹ,תרו שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה יַעֲשֶׂה הַשִּׁי"ן וְאַחַר־כָּךְ הַקֶּשֶׁר שֶׁל רֹאשׁ, וְקֶשֶׁר שֶׁל יָד אַחַר־כָּךְ, כְּסֵדֶר אוֹתִיּוֹת הַשֵּׁם.

וְהַקֶּשֶׁר שֶׁל רֹאשׁ – אֵין צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִרְאֶה כְּמִין דָּלֶי"ת אֶלָּא מִצַּד חוּץ,תרז וְלֹא מִצַּד פְּנִים שֶׁכְּלַפֵּי הָרֹאשׁ, וְיֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִין לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִרְאֶה כְּמִין דָּלֶי"ת מִשְּׁנֵי צְדָדִין:248

Fig. 49: A visual representation of the Divine name Shin-Dalet-Yud.
Fig. 49: A visual representation of the Divine name Shin-Dalet-Yud.

80 It is customary to cover the compartment of the arm-tefillin with a piece of leather over the width of the arm, because the arm-tefillin is tall and narrow, and [can be] damaged by the clothes under which it is placed. It is therefore customary to cover it with this strip [of leather] in order to strengthen it. In some communities [this] is not the custom.249

פ וְנוֹהֲגִין לְהַעֲבִיר עוֹר עַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁל יָדתרח לְרֹחַב הַזְּרוֹעַ, לְפִי שֶׁהַתְּפִלִּין שֶׁל יָד הֵם גְּבוֹהִים וּקְצָרִים, וּמְשִׂימִין אוֹתָן תַּחַת הַבְּגָדִים וּמִתְקַלְקְלִין תַּחַת הַבְּגָדִים, לְכָךְ נָהֲגוּ לְהַעֲבִיר עֲלֵיהֶן רְצוּעָה זוֹ לְחַזְּקָן. וּבְמִקְצָת מְקוֹמוֹת אֵין נוֹהֲגִין לְהַעֲבִירָהּ:תרט,249